Idaho’s top health official says he wants to construct new buildings for an embattled mental health facility near Nampa.
The Southwest Idaho Treatment Center, or SWITC, has been undergoing a makeover in recent months after six workers resigned or were fired when the state accused them of abusing or neglecting patients.
Idaho health officials are also trying to reverse a staff turnover problem and find the most effective ways to treat the 17 patients with significant mental health conditions who live there.
Dave Jeppeson, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, made it clear to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Tuesday that the legislature will need to invest in new buildings.
“There is no scenario that I will come back to this committee or the legislature that includes keeping the facilities the same. They’re just not built for that. They were built for a different purpose and a different time and they actually contribute to the problems we face,” Jeppesen says.
SWITC was home to nearly 1,000 patients at its peak in 1955. But a move to community-based treatment has driven that number down to double digits.
Jeppesen says an advisory committee is also weighing what the department will do with the 600-acre campus and whether or not the state will even continue to run the facility.
He expects recommendations to be hammered out by June.
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