Department of Health and Human Services
 

A New Acute Mental Health Hospital

Milwaukee County has provided inpatient mental health services for our residents for more than 100 years. Through the Milwaukee County Mental Health Redesign, a collaborative effort that began nearly 10 years ago with stakeholders across our county, we began transforming our mental health system. Our current system connects individuals with high-quality care in the community and is less reliant on psychiatric inpatient admissions and emergency room visits. We encourage you to learn about milestones we’ve achieved since the redesign began.

Our Next Major Milestone

As part of the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services, the Behavioral Health Division’s role is to ensure everyone in Milwaukee County has access to high-quality, patient-centered behavioral health services, and they are treated with dignity - no matter their severity of illness or ability to pay. Universal Health Services (UHS) brings experience as one of the nation’s leading providers of acute, inpatient mental health care to benefit all individuals in Milwaukee County. They will construct and operate a new, freestanding 120-bed inpatient mental health facility to serve the inpatient behavioral health needs of adolescents, adults and older adults in Milwaukee County. This state-of-the art facility will be an independent hospital open to all members of the community, as well as the individuals treated in BHD’s inpatient hospital. Adding this capacity to our system will make it possible for BHD to focus on increasing access and improving the quality of care available in Milwaukee County.

 

BHD will continue serving patients at the Mental Health Complex until 2021. During this time, patients, families and our providers can expect the same high-level quality of care provided in our complex.

 

 

History | About UHS | Our Transformation

See the Press Release

What This Means for Our Employees, Partners and Community

Through the redesign of Milwaukee County’s mental health system, we are working toward a modern approach to services that meets people where they are in their journey to recovery.

Attract and Grow Top Talent

We are working to transform our system of behavioral health care into a national, best-practice leader in integrated care. As physicians, nurses, clinicians and caregivers, our employees will be a vital part of this change. We will collaborate with educational, public and private organizations to improve our system of care and provide development opportunities for our workforce.

Strengthen Our Community Connections

Partnerships with our providers, advocacy groups, nonprofits and other government entities are key to the success of a behavioral health care system. This requires a commitment to shared values and to doing what’s best for the individuals we serve.

Enhance the Experience for Those Served

Our system will incorporate strength-based, healing and holistic practices so the people we serve and their families feel respected and empowered throughout their experience. We want the people to always have a connection to the care they need.

Expand Access to High-Quality Care

We will expand capacity in the system and provide the highest quality of care using evidence-based and best-practice approaches. The individual and their unique needs will be at the center of their care, and we will measure and evaluate outcomes with a commitment to always do better.

Resources

We want to ensure you have access to the most up-to-date information about this new hospital and what this means for you. We’ve put together a few resources to keep you in the know.

Community FAQ

At BHD, our role is to ensure everyone in Milwaukee County has access to high-quality, patient-centered behavioral health services, no matter their severity of illness or ability to pay. Your questions are important to us and while we don’t have all the answers today, we are committed to keeping you updated as the process moves forward.

Open AllClose All
  What does the new contract with Universal Health Services mean?

The new contract means Universal Health Services (UHS) will become a provider of acute, inpatient mental health care services for the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division. Over the next two years, UHS will construct and operate a new, freestanding 120-bed inpatient mental health facility to serve the inpatient behavioral health needs of adolescents, adults and older adults in Milwaukee County.  This state-of-the-art acute, inpatient mental health facility will offer a more innovative environment of care designed to support the supervision, treatment and safety of those served. The UHS hospital will be an independent hospital serving as the primary receiving facility for all of the patients treated at the Behavioral Health Division (BHD) today, as well as the community.

  Why did the Mental Health Board make this decision?

The County has provided inpatient mental health services to our residents for more than 100 years. Best practices and laws have changed over the years. Ten years ago, Milwaukee County launched the Mental Health Redesign with advocates, community leaders and leaders in mental health. These reforms took the new laws into account and began to incorporate best practices like trauma-informed care, individualized treatment plans, connecting people with providers in the community and quality improvement. This meant BHD would move away from inpatient and institutional care to create a community-based system that meets more people where they are at before they are in crisis or need to be hospitalized. Partnering with UHS as the County’s primary provider of acute, inpatient behavioral health services will increase the number of acute beds available in the County and make it possible for BHD to focus on continued reforms of our system, increasing access and improving the quality of care available in Milwaukee County.

  Why Universal Health Services?

UHS has experience helping patients with severe and challenging behavioral health conditions recover. They work with populations like ours and have great outcomes and excellent patient satisfaction scores. In 2015, the Mental Health Board launched a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify a provider to build a new hospital and provide acute, inpatient mental health care for the patients BHD serves in the hospital. The Mental Health Board’s Joint Task Force led this effort. The task force was a committee comprised of board members, advocates, individuals with lived experience and mental health experts. After more than two years of comprehensive due diligence, the task force recommended the board approve UHS as our provider. The new hospital will be open to everyone in need of behavioral health services, further reducing stigma for the individuals BHD serves. As one of the leading providers of inpatient mental health care in the nation, UHS will introduce new best practices to our community, as well as increase the capacity of inpatient care so BHD can focus on community-based care.

  Will this change take place immediately?

No, the transition will take about two years. BHD will continue serving patients at the Mental Health Complex until 2021.  There will be no disruption in PCS services; a transition will take place over time.

  How will this impact patients, residents, children and communities?

This will be good for everyone as we work to improve the behavioral health care system in Milwaukee County. The partnership with UHS will offer expanded access to services and expertise, resulting in greater access to care and better outcomes. Individuals and families who come to the Mental Health Complex today for inpatient care will go to to the new Universal Health Services hospital when it opens. We will make information available when we have it.

  What will this change mean for the Behavioral Health Division?

We will strengthen programs that are successful, work closely with our providers to ensure quality care is available, and track and measure quality and outcomes.

   How can I receive more information?

We are committed to providing you with timely updates through a variety of mediums. We will have regular updates in our employee newsletter. You’ll receive regular updates via email. Employees are also encouraged to attend monthly Town Halls. We will also post updates on our website: county.milwaukee.gov/acutehospital. Here you can find answers to more frequently asked questions, information about our new provider and can event submit questions and ideas.

Employee FAQ

At BHD, our role is to ensure everyone in Milwaukee County has access to high-quality, patient-centered behavioral health services, no matter the severity of illness or ability to pay. Your questions are important to us and while we don’t have all the answers today, we are committed to keeping you updated as the process moves forward.

Open AllClose All
  What does the new contract with Universal Health Services mean?

The new contract means Universal Health Services (UHS) will become a provider of acute, inpatient mental health care services for the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division. Over the next two years, UHS will construct and operate a new, freestanding 120-bed inpatient mental health facility to serve the inpatient behavioral health needs of adolescents, adults and older adults in Milwaukee County.  This state-of-the-art acute, inpatient mental health facility will offer a more innovative environment of care designed to support the supervision, treatment and safety of those served. The UHS facility will be an independent hospital serving as the primary receiving facility for all of the patients treated at the Behavioral Health Division (BHD) today, as well as the community.

  Why did the Mental Health Board make this decision?

The County has provided inpatient mental health services to our residents for more than 100 years. Best practices and laws have changed over the years. Ten years ago, Milwaukee County launched the Mental Health Redesign with advocates, community leaders and leaders in mental health. These reforms took the new laws into account and began to incorporate best practices like trauma-informed care, individualized treatment plans, connecting people with providers in the community and quality improvement. This meant BHD would move away from inpatient and institutional care to create a community-based system that meets more people where they are at before they are in crisis or need to be hospitalized. Partnering with UHS as the County’s primary provider of acute, inpatient behavioral health services will increase the number of acute beds available in the County and make it possible for BHD to focus on continued reforms of our system, increasing access and improving the quality of care available in Milwaukee County.

  Why Universal Health Services?

UHS has experience helping patients with severe and challenging behavioral health conditions recover. They work with populations like ours and have great outcomes and excellent patient satisfaction scores. In 2015, the Mental Health Board launched a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify a provider to build a new hospital and provide acute, inpatient mental health care for the patients BHD serves in the hospital. The Mental Health Board’s Joint Task Force led this effort. The task force was a committee comprised of board members, advocates, individuals with lived experience and mental health experts. After more than two years of comprehensive due diligence, the task force recommended the board approve UHS as our provider. The new hospital will be open to everyone in need of behavioral health services, further reducing stigma for the individuals BHD serves.

  Will this change take place immediately?

No, the transition will take about two years. BHD will continue serving patients at the Mental Health Complex until 2021. There will be no disruption in PCS services; a transition will take place over time.

  Will there be changes to my job?

We don’t expect any changes in the near future. The contract with UHS was just approved by the Mental Health Board, which means Milwaukee County and the Behavioral Health Division will begin talking with UHS about staffing. There is a lot we don’t know today. However, here are a few things we do know:

  • The Mental Health Complex needs to remain staffed for two years; during this time, we will continue caring for patients who need acute care in our hospital. There are incentives to stay at BHD and incentives for candidates to join our team throughout our transition.
  • UHS’s hospital is expected to have 120 beds and UHS will need employees with experience in behavioral health to work with patients once the new facility opens.
  • In addition, BHD has a lot of exciting work ahead as we expand our efforts to ensure everyone who needs behavioral health care in Milwaukee County gets connected with the care they need and is treated with dignity, regardless of their situation.
  What incentives will be available?

Retention and severance packages will be offered. We will announce the details of our retention plan in early 2019. The plan outlines specific retention periods throughout 2019 and until BHD’s acute, inpatient care fully transitions to the new hospital - likely towards the end of 2021. We hope these retention payments will encourage our staff to stay with us throughout this transition. We will also announce a severance plan, separate from the retention plan, as another way to encourage employees to continue to provide service to our community at BHD throughout this transition. Details of the severance agreement will be made available shortly after contract negotiations with a new partner have been completed - likely June 2019.

  Can you tell me which positions will be affected by this decision?

We don’t have that list yet. Positions eligible for severance and retention will be more clearly defined in the coming months. As we learn more, we’ll keep you informed through your department leadership.

  Will my benefits change?

The contract with UHS was just approved by the Mental Health Board, which means Milwaukee County and the Behavioral Health Division will begin talking with UHS about what benefits will look like for those who are employed by UHS.

  How will this affect my retirement plan?

Vested pension benefits will not be lost as a result of the transition to UHS. Employees are encouraged to call Retirement Plan Services (RPS) to begin conversations if they are considering retirement at (414) 278-4207. Employees may also visit the RPS page at Retirement Plan Services for additional resources .

  How will this impact our patients, residents, children and communities?

This will be good for everyone as we work to improve the behavioral health care system in Milwaukee County. The partnership with UHS will offer expanded access to services and expertise, resulting in greater access to care and better outcomes. Individuals and families who come to the Mental Health Complex today for inpatient care will go to the new Universal Health Services facility when it opens. We will make information available when we have it.

  What will this change mean for the Behavioral Health Division?

We will strengthen programs that are successful, work closely with our providers to ensure quality care is available, track and measure quality and outcomes and more.

  How will I receive more information?

We are committed to providing you with timely updates through a variety of mediums. We will have regular updates in our employee newsletter. You’ll receive regular updates via email. Employees are also encouraged to attend monthly Town Halls. We will also post updates on our website: county.milwaukee.gov/acutehospital. Here you can find answers to more frequently asked questions, information about our new provider and can event submit questions and ideas.

  What should I do if media approach me for a comment?

While we want to be responsive to media, we also need to handle all media requests carefully. Please do not speak with the media.  According to our media policy, all requests for interviews related to this should be immediately forwarded to Ann Knabe at (414) 635-7004 or Kimberly Kane at (414) 635-7006.

Media Contact: Ann Knabe

Phone: (414) 635-7004

News Center

Learn more about our transformation. Continue to check back here to learn what others are saying about this new hospital. For more news about Milwaukee County, visit our news page.

Contact Us

We expect you’ll have questions about what this new hospital will mean for you. We want to hear from you. Ask a question or send us your thoughts/comments. We will reply within 48 hours (2 business days).

Media Contact: Ann Knabe, (414) 635-7004

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

1220 W. Vliet St.

Suite 301

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53205

Our Vision

Together, creating healthy communities.

Our Mission

Empowering safe, healthy, meaningful lives.

Our Values

Partnership, Respect, Integrity, 

Diversity, Excellence

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