Waukesha County Mental Health Center (WCMHC) will become a 16-bed psychiatric hospital, effective August 1, 2022. The State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services Division of Quality Assurance has approved the WCMHC request to change the status from a 28-bed Institute for Mental Disease (IMD) to a 16-bed psychiatric hospital.
Variables that influenced the decision to reduce the adult psychiatric beds at the county-operated Mental Health Center include demand, capacity, efficiency, and utilization of psychiatric behavioral health services in the community.
The 5-year average daily census at WCMHC has trended downward. In the first six months of 2022, the average daily patient census has been twelve. Since 2020, the trend for total annual patient admissions has risen, while the daily census has averaged less than 16 patients. In 2019, the average patient length of stay was 13.9 days. In the first six months of 2022, the average stay is 7.6 days. The WCMHC trends indicate more patients are admitted yet stay for fewer days. Advances in care and treatment have also reduced the need for longer inpatient stays.
Open bed capacity is not the single factor that determines patient admissions. The unique specialty-care needs of each patient factor into the WCMHC’s capacity decisions to ensure a safe, more therapeutic environment. The WCMHC works to serve its patients, whether admitted voluntarily or involuntarily, with the right services in the right place at the right time.
The change in status from a 28-bed IMD to a 16-bed psychiatric hospital will increase the efficiency of the Waukesha County Mental Health Center. As of August 1, the county will now be eligible to receive reimbursement from the Title 19 Medicaid program for services rendered to patients covered under Medicaid, reducing the burden on county funds.
The reduction in inpatient beds will allow the WCMHC to close one wing of the building and remodel it as a Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU), projected to open in 2024. The CSU will serve as a 24/7/365 intensive, short-term residential treatment unit for individuals willing to receive services when experiencing a mental health emergency or substance use disorder crisis. Recovery-oriented therapeutic interventions in the CSU will help stabilize an individual in crisis. Community behavioral health partners and other care teams will be able to help the individual following their immediate crisis, which will decrease the need for inpatient hospitalization at the Waukesha County Mental Health Center.
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