Funding for the North Dakota State Hospital from the North Dakota Legislature will maintain the facility's operations for the next two years, according to Rosalie Etherington, superintendent of the State Hospital.

"As a whole, we did quite well," she said. "... the budget is the same as we requested."

That budget includes retaining the same number of employees and the same patient capacity for the next two years, Etherington said.

"We don't have authorization for a new State Hospital," she said, "but what turned into a study will be beneficial."

For the second legislative session, a study was approved addressing the possibility of a new State Hospital facility.

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"This study requests a general design of a new hospital along with determining firm costs," Etherington said. "These are steps towards a new hospital that are built into the study."

Rep. Bernie Satrom, R-Jamestown, said he was in favor of a new State Hospital in the future.

"A lot of the campus has gone past its useful life," he said. "The buildings are dictating how programs are run rather than the programs dictating how the buildings are used."

The Legislature also addressed some of the concerns with the aging State Hospital campus. Three buildings - the old employee building condemned in the 1990s, an administration building and the chapel - will be demolished. The buildings have not been utilized in more than 20 years.

"We received authorization to go to the interim legislative committee to fix any failures that occur in existing buildings," Etherington said, referring to any major expenses for unforeseen repairs to buildings that the State Hospital is still utilizing.

State Hospital employees will receive a 1.5% pay increase with a minimum of $100 in the first year of the biennium and a 2% pay raise in the second year. Both pay raises are contingent on the employee's performance.

"The retirement and insurance packages stayed the same for workers," Etherington said.

The North Dakota State Hospital and other Human Service agencies drew a lot of attention in the recent legislative session.

"Behavioral health was a focus of the Legislature," Etherington said. "Overall, it was not a bad session."

Rep. Chet Pollert, R-Carrington and House majority leader, said the North Dakota State Hospital is vitally important to Jamestown and to the whole state of North Dakota.

"It is really critical that we address mental health needs," Satrom said. "If we don't, it costs us more in the long run. This is money well spent."