Soon those experiencing mental health crises can turn to a local place for support.

Officials have been working on plans for a mental health and wellness facility that will open in early 2020, according to Rod Franks, Carver County health and human services director. The building had previously served as the Marie Steiner Kelting Hospice Home located in northern Chaska at 9120 Shady Oak Drive.

The building, which has views of nearby Lake Bavaria, has been vacant since the county formally purchased it for $2.5 million from Ridgeview Medical Center in December 2017, Franks said. County officials had determined there was a need for a facility for those experiencing mental health crises.

Upcoming construction — slated to begin “immediately,” according to a Carver County press release — will build a 2,700-square-foot addition and will increase the facility from five to 12 beds. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Aug. 6.

Construction will be completed sometime in December and Franks hopes the facility will start admitting patients in January 2020.

“We want this to be a known community asset,” he said. “We’re doing this to be consistent with the needs and values of the community.”

Although the county will own the building, an experienced licensed provider will be contracted to operate the day-to-day tasks at the facility. The bidding process has come to a close, Franks said. He declined to give specifics on the number of bids that the county has received, but said it was more than one.

There will not be any tax liability to Carver County residents in relation to the construction and renovation of the addition, he added.

“Thanks to $1.25 million in state bonding, the county will expand and renovate the facility. The setting and building, both current and the planned expansion, is ideal to serve clients and keeps them close to home, helping them maintain those key connections with family, friends and their jobs,” Franks stated, in the release.

Controversy over the building has decreased, according to Franks. Residents living across County Road 11 (Victoria Drive) in the city of Victoria were previously concerned with the proximity of the facility to their homes and Victoria Elementary School, located a half mile away from the building.

Chaska residents, previous city councilors and Mayor Mark Windschitl had also raised concerns over the project.

“There were a lot of questions and there were some concerns,” Franks said. “As we talked about who would be here and the stuff that would take place, the concerns resolved themselves.”

The county set up a citizen facility advisory group, that is advising officials on the project. That group will also make recommendations about the outside vendor that will be running the facility.

“There’s a mix of people in the group to make sure everyone’s voices are heard,” he said.

BUILDING

There’s a lot of space inside of the mental health and wellness facility for county officials to work with.

There’s a “water therapy” room, which could be converted into a normal bedroom. There’s a chapel that could work for group therapy, programming or community meetings. It could also be used to host religious activities. The playground outside may stay, depending on what the vendor plans to do with it, Franks said.

One of the rooms with a bathroom will be handicap accessible.

Any rooms that have doors directly to the outside of the facility will be locked, except during facility emergencies. All hooks or any other fixtures that could be dangerous will also be removed from the rooms, according to Franks.

Below the living area, there are geothermal heat pumps. Glycol is used to heat the building efficiently, according to Franks.

“The building is a really good investment for the taxpayers,” he said.

Wold Architects designed the expansion and renovation and Ebert Construction will complete the construction work.

This will be the county’s second overnight facility, the first being the jail, according to Franks. The county also has an adult care service center that is run during the day.

To qualify for treatment, patients will first have to be assessed by a hospital. The facility will be licensed as a regional facility, so it will not be limited to residents of Carver County.

County officials have not yet determined how much it will cost for a patient to stay at the facility. The price depends on a number of factors, including staffing costs, the vendor agreement and reimbursement from the state.

Hospice

The building was originally built on land donated to Ridgeview by the city of Chaska in 2008.

The medical center invested about $3 million and received donations from community members to open the facility in 2009. The city of Chaska donated the land to the cause on the premise that it was life-cycle housing.

However, Ridgeview officials said the facility lost $5 million and it was closed in June 2017.

Ridgeview isn’t out of the picture.

They’ve helped the county create the mental health and wellness center, according to Franks. County officials also received help from the Chaska Police Department and Carver County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s neat to see everyone work together to get an asset like this to come to be,” he said.

Staff Reporter

Alex Chhith is a staff reporter at the Chaska Herald. In her spare time, she enjoys walking her dogs (Cody and Sam), catching up on the Game of Thrones and finding new restaurants. Follow her on Twitter @AlexChhith.

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