Hospital bid award expected in April

Mental health has been the topic of discussion with plans for the new Fulton State Hospital facilities underway.

Appointed 13th Circuit Court Judge Jeff Harris and Marty Martin-Forman, Fulton State Hospital chief operating officer, presented updates during recent meetings for two community organizations.

Forman gave the Fulton Rotary Club a detailed update on the plans for the new FSH facility during the club's regular meeting March 16. Harris attended the Kiwanis Club meeting Thursday to discuss the new facility and other mental health initiatives already at work in Missouri.

The $211 million project is projected to be complete by fall 2018 after 30 months of work, and Harris told Kiwanis members the construction will create 2,500 construction jobs for the community.

"This is a real economic boom to this community," he added.

Forman told members of Rotary that a bid for the hospital of the new facility will be expected sometime this week, and a decision will be made on who gets the bid during the first week of April.

The new, larger facility will have approximately 300 beds for the hospital's current 292 patients; it will include amenities such as a vocational learning area, HOPE center, which includes a gym, library and chapel, and an outdoor pavilion.

The facility's administration building will include pieces of the current FSH, including a plaque, which will be set in the wall on the outside of the new facility.

"Our history is important to us, and we want to preserve it while continuing to be a part of the community," Forman said.

The hospital space itself is projected to be under budget, Forman said, but the entire cost of the project includes leveling the 80-foot difference between one side of the property from the other, demolishing Biggs and providing the additional amenities.

Harris told the Kiwanis club the annual worker compensation cost sits at $4 million now, which is higher than any other state facility in Missouri. Security became a large focus during the construction of the new facility. Forman told Rotary members that a biometric security system will be in place and other security measures include a secured garage that will close its doors prior to transported patients exiting vehicles.

"Our security has revolutionized how we do business," Forman said.

While Harris briefly discussed the status of the new FSH facilities, he also discussed the state of mental health initiatives and care in Missouri. Three initiatives have been introduced to the state that, Harris said, focus helping people with mental health issues living independent lives.

• A mental health first-aid program - teaches non mental health professionals how to help identify the symptoms of someone dealing with a mental health crisis and finding them the appropriate assistance.

• Community mental health liaisons - 31 people around the state have been appointed to get someone experiencing a mental health crisis to appropriate treatments or remind them to take their medications.

• Emergency room intervention - 65 hospitals in the state of Missouri have teams of counselors and specialists who help someone experiencing a mental health crisis find treatment.

Harris told Kiwanis members these initiatives have already had an impact on people diagnosed with mental health issues throughout the state. There has already been a 50 percent decrease in the arrest of people with mental health issues, a 68 percent decrease in trips to the emergency room for those with mental health issues, an 84 percent decrease in the number of those with mental health issues who are homeless and a 119 percent increase in treatment program enrollment, Harris said.

"Not every community would embrace having correctional and mental health facilities incorporated into itself, but you've integrated it into the fabric of Fulton and Callaway County," Harris said. "I appreciate your commitment to improving the mental health of Missourians."