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Mental health hospitalizations rising in Idaho

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2013 at 4:48 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013

Lawmakers have been willing to fund some increases, however: Edmunds thanked the members of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee for approving nearly $550,000 to add 10 full-time positions at State Hospital South. Those staffers were badly needed, Edmunds said, because the previous staffing level was too low and that was hindering the safety of employees and patients.

The new positions resulted in a 39 percent drop in the number of staffers who were injured by patients last fiscal year, he said, and a 33 percent drop in the use of restraints and seclusion for patients.

Increasing the workforce remains a priority for the department, Edmunds said. State Hospital South needs at least two more psychiatrists and State Hospital North needs at least one, but the department is having trouble recruiting doctors for the jobs.

The average length of stay in Idaho's state mental hospitals is down from more than 80 days in fiscal year 2009 to fewer than 60 days in fiscal year 2012.