State-run hospital needs upgrades, training, Dayton says

Hospital administrator
Minnesota Security Hospital Administrator David Proffitt stands outside the facility in St. Peter.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

The Minnesota Security Hospital needs to be renovated to provide better care for patients, Gov. Mark Dayton said after meeting with staff and administrators Wednesday.

The state-run facility in St. Peter houses and treats people who are classified as mentally ill and dangerous.

"Part of what I saw was a very obsolete, outmoded facility," Dayton said. "And that's why my bonding request has the money to totally renovate that part of the facility, so it is a better therapeutic environment."

Dayton has proposed spending $44 million to renovate the facility and the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, which are currently housed next to each other. Dayton's proposal would separate the Sex Offender Program from the other programs on the site. It would also build new units to help reduce staff and patient injuries.

The governor's visit to the Minnesota Security Hospital comes at a time when the facility has been scrutinized, following a report in December that found staff inappropriately used restraint and seclusion to handle violent patients.

Dayton says he was pleased to hear that administrators are trying to focus more on treatment and less on punishment. He hopes the facility provides more training for staff who provide direct care to patients.

"Any kind of change like this takes a little time, and it takes a little time for the patients to understand that they're going to be treated differently from before," Dayton said. "But you know I think they're headed in the right direction."

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