Heartview Foundation to renovate old Dickinson hospital for residential SUD treatment services
The North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division has awarded a $1.6 million contract to the Heartview Foundation, based out of Bismarck, to establish licensed residential substance use disorder treatment services in Dickinson for adults with substance use disorders.
DICKINSON — With a $1.6 million contract granted from the North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division, Heartview Foundation is planning on establishing licensed residential substance use disorder treatment services in Dickinson for adults with substance use disorders.
Heartview Foundation, which is centrally based out of Bismarck with another location in Cando, North Dakota, will develop a 16-bed residential treatment program for adults with substance use disorders that provides short-term services that are individualized and based on best practices.
Speaking to The Dickinson Press, Executive Director Kurt Snyder of Heartview Foundation noted that they plan on renovating the fourth floor of St. Joe’s Plaza, which used to be known as the labor and delivery floor of the old St. Joseph’s Hospital. As part of this contract, outpatient substance use disorders treatment services will also be offered.
“The people that would go into a residential setting need a safe, supportive place to be. Many of them will have mild to moderate withdrawal (and) have also other co-occurring medical issues. They're pretty beaten up by their use of drugs and alcohol,” Snyder said, explaining, “... People tend to stay in our residence anywhere from three to six weeks. What’s important about developing those outpatient programs is that once they step out of that real secure, safe environment of the residential program, they have the support they need as they get their feet back under them in the community.”
Over the years, Snyder has attended meetings in Dickinson, gathered input from Heartview Foundation patients and reviewed community needs assessments from area hospitals. One of the main issues being addressed by health care providers, law enforcement, alike on the Western Edge remains the use of alcohol and drugs.
“I think that for many years, Dickinson has had a disparity of behavioral health services that go back to the boom and maybe even before the boom… Folks in your community that (are) struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and (are) needing those services sometimes have to go a long way to get those services,” Snyder said.
Oftentimes, 40-50% of patients seeking services from the Heartview Foundation in Bismarck are from western North Dakota, according to Snyder.
“It’s disruptive for them to go into a residential program and even twice as disruptive to travel halfway across the state to do so. So to really be able to help Dickinson with providing health and wellness services that really are going to impact the community, they need to happen with the area within the city of Dickinson,” he added.
Though there is a critical need to fill those gaps of services in southwestern North Dakota, Snyder noted that it is a process especially with obtaining enough nurses, addiction counselors, mental health professionals and residential technicians — which are similar to CNAs and must be highly trained to administer medication and provide 24/7 care.
“My biggest concern and the barrier that I foresee the most is workforce,” Snyder said. “So how we expand to include other services like outpatient day treatment, intensive outpatient aftercare services, whatever we would add to it — which are really important services — but that development and implementation of those services would definitely be driven in some degree by the workforce that we would be able to secure.”
The proposed site is an outdated facility, with renovations estimated at $950,000. The rest of the $1.6 million would help with start-up costs such as purchasing furniture, beds, equipment, computers, etc. Snyder has worked with an architect to begin the design process. Once those plans are in place, the project would be put out for bids, followed by the hiring of a contractor and construction tentatively kicking off in June.
The earliest completion date to finish renovations is slated for December. However, obtaining all the materials for the construction phase could take time due to the ongoing shipment and stocking issues happening across the world, Snyder said, adding that it could be delayed until early 2023.
If all goes according to plan, the foundation would then hire staff in January of 2023 and training would follow. Snyder noted that they wouldn’t take their first patient at the Dickinson facility until the spring of 2023.
In recent weeks leading up to this grant funding announcement, Snyder has had conversations with political leaders such as North Dakota Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner and Rep. Mike Lefor, R-Dickinson, as well as students and officials from Dickinson State University.
“I've had overwhelming support from everybody I've visited with and the people that I talk to are very excited and talk about how needed this program will be. So it's been really well received,” he noted.
During the 2019 legislative session, North Dakota lawmakers appropriated $2 million to the North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division to establish up to two new residential substance abuse treatment programs. During the Legislature’s special session in November of 2021, lawmakers appropriated an additional $3 million to establish four total residential substance abuse treatment programs in the state. Behavioral Health Division Director Pamela Sagness noted her enthusiasm for this project in an official announcement Tuesday.
“We are excited about this new opportunity to expand access to vital treatment services,” Sagness said. “Residents in the southwest region of North Dakota will soon have expanded access to addiction treatment services reducing their need to travel far from home and creating opportunities for family support.”
As a nonprofit organization established in 1964 with a board of directors, Heartview Foundation is currently looking at rewriting its bylaws and board memberships to include three Dickinson members on the board that will provide a voice to the local community, Snyder said.
“... Heartview Foundation is also a joint-commission accredited facility. So we have an accreditation with the joint commission and if we open a new service, they also will come and review the service within six months of its opening. And being an accredited facility, we do need to go through that accreditation process and really that accreditation looks at safety codes and our process and policies around serving people to make sure that we’re providing the safest and best care possible,” he added.
Originally from Dickinson, Snyder has been in long-term recovery since June of 1993. Despite not always being “a very positive influencer, contributor to the community” in his younger years, Snyder said that he’s beyond excited to be able to give back to a cause that’s personal to him.
“I look forward to working with all the agencies that include the nonprofits, the charitable organizations (and) the state-funded programs that have been working so hard (and are) overwhelmed with the needs in the Dickinson area,” he said. “We really see ourselves as a collaborator and we want to make sure that we do everything we can to contribute to filling the gaps around those services. This is an area of incredible need that we believe we can offer.”