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Plans in motion to use old Dickinson hospital for mental health services

The old St. Joseph's Hospital in Dickinson will soon have new ownership and a new purpose--to serve the behavioral and mental health needs of the Dickinson and southwestern North Dakota region.

Picture of the old St. Joseph's Hospital. (submitted photo)
Picture of the old St. Joseph's Hospital. (submitted photo)

The old St. Joseph's Hospital in Dickinson will soon have new ownership and a new purpose-to serve the behavioral and mental health needs of the Dickinson and southwestern North Dakota region.

Renamed St. Joe's Plaza, the old hospital will soon be owned by Andres Mejia, currently the director of risk management and quality for the CHI St. Alexius facility in Dickinson. Mejia has lived many years in the area and worked in many different parts of the hospital.

"I have worked long-term care, I have worked acute care, I have worked outpatient-being here in the community for the past 15 years, the community it is great here. For over a year we have been working ... on the possibility of ... bringing the services for inpatient psychiatric to the community," Mejia said. "Mental health continues to be the biggest need for our community. The idea is ... when people hear mental health, everybody gets a little afraid, but we are bringing nothing new that the community didn't have before. We used to have mental health ... years ago. Those services were here in the community."

Mejia has been working with a number of organizations within Dickinson to help bring this facility to completion. CHI is looking into forming a partnership with Prairie St. John's Hospital in Fargo to bring their dedicated mental health services to the Dickinson area; Mejia himself has been working alongside Dickinson State University and the Dickinson Chamber of Commerce, as well as with Kyle Kuntz of the Real Estate Company, to try and bring a much-needed litany of psychiatric, substance abuse, behavioral health and inpatient and outpatient services to the area.

"Working on this project with Mr. Mejia, it has been wonderful to see so much support and excitement from him and many diverse groups," Kuntz said. "Shortly, we will be releasing our extensive marketing plans showcasing the opportunities and possibilities to the public for these one of a kind spaces. Through the unique process, we have made sure to do our due diligence ahead of time understanding and taking into account what was best for the campus and the community, as a whole."

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Mejia said that regular community health assessments have revealed the need for more and better mental health services in the area, but he also understands that some wariness remains when it comes to opening a hospital of that nature in the city.

"So we understand sometimes that the community is afraid, when they hear that, but this is nothing new," Mejia said. "We had already handled (those) services; that building was built for that."

"Our goal moving forward is to develop the building into as many great spaces as possible to create a campus of multiple purpose uses that can enhance Dickinson and all of southwest North Dakota," Kuntz said. "City officials have done a very good job of making sure the zoning and uses in that space are a positive to the area and that complement the surrounding neighborhood."

Kuntz noted that many people have to travel or be transported far out of Dickinson in order to get services like the ones this new hospital would provide.

"This could certainly provide the opportunity to help a lot of people locally, that would typically be transported outside of our area for assistance," Kuntz said. "We certainly are not limiting our search to just these types of services or groups."

Once Mejia owns the hospital, there'll be more work needed before services can begin there-currently he is working with the city of Dickinson to get the required special permitting.

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