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Governor tours new psychiatric hospital


October 14, 2004

Anchorage, Alaska - Governor Frank Murkowski on Wednesday toured the new psychiatric treatment facility now under construction next to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API). Governor Murkowski announced that the program, under the umbrella organization of API, will be named the Alaska Recovery Center. "The name of this program exemplifies our notion that all of our citizens who suffer from psychiatric disabilities can lead productive lives in recovery," said Governor Murkowski.

jpg Governor & tour group

Left to right: Ron Adler, API Chief Executive Officer; Governor Frank Murkowski; Alaska Health & Social Services Commissioner Joel Gilbertson; and Patrick Ventgen, Quality Improvement Coordinator of Alaska Psychiatric Institute. Outside the entrance to the new facility.

"The project is ahead of schedule and on budget. What is unique about this facility is that it was designed for consumers, with consumer participation in the planning and design," said Joel Gilbertson, Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Commissioner.

In the new facility, all units and patient care services are offered on a single level. Each unit has private landscaped courtyards with covered areas and non-fence walls for security. "The goal was to develop an environment that was safe, welcoming, and designed for the dignity of the individual," said Gilbertson. The Governor toured the new facility, accessing all areas by way of the large, airy "Main Street", which connects all units.

"The Alaska Psychiatric Institute opened in 1962 as a specialty psychiatric hospital, but today its inadequate in many important ways," said Bill Hogan, DHSS Director of Behavioral Health. "Approaches to helping consumers with psychiatric issues have changed and improved. We've planned with the help of many consumers, providers and partners, and built this facility so we can provide our services in a dynamic and functional setting."

API engages in a committed and cooperative effort to assist Alaskans in their individual recovery process. "Our focus on recovery consists of a comprehensive approach to assist each person and his or her family and loved ones, and other networks of support in the community, to work together for the person. It's a treatment program called 'Role Recovery' and it's how we work at this facility, and in this community and state to help our consumers," said Ron Adler, API Chief Executive Officer. Adler was formerly with the City of Ketchikan Center for Human Services.

"Role Recovery is a specialized form of empirically tested psychosocial rehabilitation especially designed for persons with mental illness, based on the successful Boston Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation treatment model," said Adler. Through Role Recovery, API makes every effort to provide any and all necessary clinical treatments and services so that consumers have every hope and opportunity to return to a productive, safe, and fulfilling life in their respective community.

jpg Recovery Center


In addition to Role Recovery, guests at API also participate in an integrated psychoeducational treatment program, Partners in Excellence in Psychiatry, developed by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. This educational focus actively teaches an individual about their illness, how to manage crises as they emerge, and how to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The new addition to the treatment at API brings recovery full circle to involve the patient in the development of their own treatment and recovery plan.

"The new API TeleBehavioral Health Program will also be located in the new facility. This innovative concept in service delivery extends the clinical infrastructure of the hospital to rural-remote areas not served by itinerant behavioral health professionals," said Adler. The program provides greater access to services via technology.

The new facility will also have a multi-disciplinary Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnostic screening team, who will provide early diagnostic screenings and treatment recommendations for children suffering from FAS.

"The project to build a replacement hospital is part of a broad effort by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to enhance and create new community-based mental health services in the Anchorage area, and increase the quality of care at API," said Hogan. In the future, he said API will offer a dual diagnosis treatment program for the many consumers who suffer from both a major mental illness and substance abuse.

The new $35 million facility is scheduled to be ready for patients to move in by July 2005. The Public Facilities branch of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities was responsible for the design and construction management of the project.


Source of News & Photographs:

Office of the Governor
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