Senate committee looking at removing State Hospital from the state Constitution

Jan 6, 2017

The Senate Government and Veterans Affairs Committee is studying a bill to take the name and location of the Jamestown State Hospital out of the state’s Constitution.

The committee held a hearing on that proposal. No one showed up to speak either for or against the measure. But it’s raising some questions.

"What's going to happen with all the patients that are now in the state hospital," said North Dakota Hospital Association president Jerry Jurena. "Most of the hospitals across the state refer patients to the state hospital for services they can't provide. If there is no state hospital, where are the services, or who is going to pick those up?"

Dr. Rosalie Etherington is the superintendent of the state Hospital. She stold the commiittee the hospital has 85 beds for mentally ill and addicted patients who have failed treatment elsewhere.  She said there are 106 separate addiction treatment beds – and there are 52 individuals who are treated in a sex offender treatment unit.

"Based on the number of psychiatric beds we have across the state, the private facilities could not absorb the clients that we serve," Etherington said.

"I don't think there's a psychiatrist west of US Highway 83," said Sen. Brad Bekkedahl (R-Williston), a committee member.

The Committee took no immediate action.