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N.D. State Hospital to stop treating teenagers

JAMESTOWN, N.D. - The North Dakota State Hospital is getting out of the business of treating teens.

Adolescents with psychological and/or drug or alcohol addiction issues will now be treated at private facilities around the state, such as Prairie St. Johns in Fargo, or the Stadter Center in Grand Forks, Superintendent Alex Schweitzer said Monday.

Teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be placed in residential treatment at the state Developmental Center in Grafton, Schweitzer said.

The State Hospital is three to six months away from closing its adolescent care facility, Schweitzer said. It will then focus exclusively on the mental health and addiction care needs of adults, he said.

When Schweitzer arrived at the State Hospital in 1995, it had 35 beds for teens. Now, the facility is down to 12 referrals a year, he said. For the past five to six years, it has been 50 percent to 60 percent full.

"We're just not getting a lot of referrals," he said, as the trend continues toward community-based care.

Recently, of the eight adolescent care beds at the State Hospital, seven were used by teens who would do better at the Grafton facility, Schweitzer said.

The State Hospital has 132 beds for adults with psychological or drug or alcohol addiction issues. The sex offender unit has 75 beds. It also provides addiction counseling for 60 male and 30 female inmates for the Department of Corrections, Schweitzer said.

The eight youth beds will be used for emergency overflow, he said.

Prairie St. Johns learned of the state's decision on teen care this summer, said Business Development Director Dawn Hoffner.

"We really are serving the (teen) population now. The number that the state gave that they were serving wasn't a really high number," she said.

Prairie St. Johns has 91 inpatient beds, providing care to all ages, children to adults, for mental health and chemical dependency issues, Hoffner said.

"There are tremendous behavioral health care needs in this state," Hoffner said. "The closer to home (for treatment) the better."