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Mental wellness facility fills gap in mental health services in Carver County

The Steiner Kelting Mental Wellness facility recently opened its doors to patients in northwest Chaska.

The facility, at 9120 Shady Oak Drive, a voluntary alternative to hospitalization, is owned by Carver County and operated by People Incorporated Mental Health Services. It provides 24/7 mental health services to people who are transitioning from the hospital and are no longer in need of inpatient care, said Jessica Hill, the director of operations for People Incorporated.

“We really saw this as a really unique opportunity to be able to serve those needing this kind of care, right here in our own community,” said Rod Franks, Carver County director of Health and Human Services.

People Incorporated has been providing mental health services for over 50 years in the metro area. The organization serves around 11,000 clients annually and has around 60 programs, Hill said.

Up to 12 patients, who are assessed to be safe to be in the community, can be served at a time. The facility offers both short-term stays, one to 10 days, or long-term care, from 60 to 90 days. Patients receive referrals to the facility through their primary health care provider, mental health care provider or hospital.

As simplistic as it sounds, “that mix of short-term and long-term care, that is something that hasn’t been done before,” Hill said. “It’s something that we’ve been conceptualizing for around two years and we’re excited to make that a reality.”

Located on the corner of Lake Bavaria, the facility lends patients a peaceful setting. The city of Chaska donated the land to Ridgeview Medical Center in 2008. Marie Steiner Kelting Hospice Home operated on the property until 2017.

After closing, Ridgeview worked with Carver County to convert the space into a mental health facility. The county expanded and renovated the facility from 2019-21 with the aid of $1.25 million in state bonding.

Community care

The wellness facility offers a service that didn’t previously exist in the area, Franks said. For people that didn’t require hospital care but couldn’t be served in their home, there wasn’t a nearby place for them to go, he said.

People in need of care would have to go to Mankato or to the Twin Cities.

“Think about how that disrupts families, disrupts employment for people to get the service they need,” Franks said.

The facility provides services for people who are struggling with their mental health. It’s a safe place where they can go to stabilize their issues and begin their path for wellness “to be integrated back into their homes and community as quickly as possible,” Franks said.

According to Franks, the facility fills a much needed gap in the county’s “mental health continuum of care.” The county already provides a range of services. Those services range from outpatient services to mental health case management to a partnership with Ridgeview Medical Center to provide hospital level care.

“The one piece that was missing was this middle piece, and this facility kind of completes that whole continuum of care,” Franks said.

Programming

The facility offers full assessments and treatment planning by mental health professionals. Patients can participate in group therapy, educational groups and wellness groups that focus on stress reduction, such as yoga, Tai Chi, art, music and occupational therapy.

“It’s evidence-based programming, said Wendy Waddell, chief operating officer of People Incorporated. “It’s…care that’s informed by what we know about the effects of trauma and it’s focused on recovery.”

Waddell is excited about the facility’s potential. It’s a beautiful healing environment that is open and full of natural light and love, she said. The facility has a strong partnership with the community of Carver County, she added.

“I really like to focus on the partnerships and the innovation and the work towards providing that hope and healing in the community,” Waddell said.

Franks echoed the role that partnerships made in making the facility a reality. The reason the facility is possible is because of the relationships that exist within the county, with the cities of Victoria and Chaska, Ridgeview Medical Center, People Incorporated, the Carver County Sheriff’s Office and the Chaska Police Department.

“All of these partners can come together to make something better than any one of us could do on our own,” Franks said.

When the county first started discussing bringing the facility into the community, people had questions, Franks said, adding it takes time for people to get all the information they need to come to a conclusion they feel good about.

“I think people are really beginning to understand that this is a benefit,” Franks said. “That there are people in our community who need this service and require it and now they can receive it right here.”

According to Franks, Carver County worked hard to inform the community about the facility. It was one of the reasons the county formed a citizen advisory committee. Over time, he has heard less of the concerns that were initially raised.

“We all have mental health and mental health is community health,” Waddell said. “This is another opportunity for people, who are experiencing a mental illness, to find hope and solutions within their community.”


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