North Dakota State Hospital sees planned budget cuts

Budget plan introduced by Gov. Doug Burgum includes steps toward a new State Hospital building.

North Dakota State Hospital
This aerial view from 2018 shows the grounds of the North Dakota State Hospital and the James River Correctional Center. John M. Steiner / The Sun

The budget for the North Dakota State Hospital proposed by Gov. Doug Burgum includes some changes to services, reduced costs to the state and maybe a new building, according to Rosalie Etherington, superintendent of the State Hospital.

The State Hospital is part of the North Dakota Department of Human Services which is subject to about $150 million in planned budget cuts.

"There is about a $7 million reduction in the State Hospital budget," Etherington said. "That is about 10%."

Cuts would be made by reducing the number of beds at the State Hospital to about 75 excluding those used for the sexual offender treatment program and substance abuse programs, Etherington said. The state would also add capacity for inpatient mental health treatment in western North Dakota as a way to allow for the reduction in beds maintained at the State Hospital.

"This would reduce the number of full-time equivalents but not necessarily reduce staff," Etherington said, referring to cuts that would have to be made at the Jamestown facility to meet the proposed budget.


The hospital will also close a treatment program it runs with the North Dakota Department of Corrections at the request of the Department of Corrections.

The North Dakota State Hospital currently has about 65 positions vacant. Etherington said staff will continue to work to fill some but not all of those positions in anticipation of the upcoming budget.

Another part of the proposed budget would be the construction of a new State Hospital facility. If approved, a request for proposals would go out looking for architects and engineers for the project. At this point, no design work has been done other than to estimate the approximate size of the building based on the planned capacity built into the budget.

Etherington said the new facility will likely cost between $150 million and $160 million.

The plan calls for a private-public partnership where a private entity would construct and maintain the building which the state of North Dakota would then lease. Preliminary plans call for a 40-year term for the lease with the state owning the building at the end of the term.

"It would be in Jamestown," Etherington said, in reference to the possible location for any new State Hospital facility. "Where in Jamestown is yet to be determined.

Some buildings of the current State Hospital would be transferred to the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation which utilizes some former State Hospital buildings for the James River Correctional Center. Any buildings not useful to the prison system would likely be demolished, Etherington said.

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