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News Restoring Strength & Hope to patients with mental illness

Restoring Strength & Hope to patients with mental illness



Staff at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital - Madison have been providing exceptional psychiatric care for more than 60 years, and our hospital has the largest adult inpatient Behavioral Health unit in Dane County. But that unit is in desperate need of updating – and plans are in place to provide a better, more healing environment for our patients and their families. 

SSM Health St. Mary's Foundation - Madison held a news conference to officially kick off the Restoring Strength & Hope capital campaign, with a goal of raising $1.5 million.

"While other hospitals across the country are closing their units, and when resources in Dane County are becoming increasingly limited, I am proud to announce that St. Mary's will be redesigning and relocating our Behavioral Health unit," Hospital President Jon Rozenfeld said. "The Restoring Strength & Hope project will allow us to increase the number of available beds to treat adults suffering from mental illness while providing a quiet, comfortable space for resting and healing."

Our current Behavioral Health unit can accommodate up to 20 patients in semi-private rooms. The new unit will be able to accommodate 20-25% more patients in private rooms, with semi-private rooms available if it's medically preferred. As you can see from the architect's renderings, the unit will also be completely transformed, providing a warm and welcoming space for healing, and offering improvements to patients' emotional wellbeing, quiet spaces for reflection and better privacy. 

"The new space is also intended to transform the family and support system experience, with more areas to participate in that care," said Dr. Matt Sager, psychiatrist, Behavioral Health Medical Director. "Every piece of this redesign has been carefully considered, including installation of video conferencing for the numerous county commitment hearings that currently require law enforcement transfers and cause significant disruptions in treatment."

The estimated cost of the project is $4.2 million, with $1.5 million of that to come from generous gifts to the Restoring Strength & Hope campaign. 

"This effort is truly a partnership between the Foundation, our donors and SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital," said Foundation Executive Director Sandy Lampman. "Mental illness is unlike cancer or heart surgery. Most patients and their families do not discuss their treatment or diagnosis or their hospital stays. Yet, one in four adults will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime – from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, psychosis. Because mental illness is difficult to talk about, you may not know that your neighbor, coworker, or even a relative is living with and receiving treatment for mental illness."

"Mental illness is not reserved for less fortunate individuals," added Dr. Sager. "This is rich and poor, highly educated, those without degrees, young and old, mothers, fathers, grandparents. We can restore strength and hope to all individuals with mental illness here at St. Mary's. We can help them manage and develop productive lives. … Our team has done a phenomenal job of making due, but we know we can do better for our patients and for their families. It's our vision to provide our patients with a calm, therapeutic and healing setting."

To help kick off the fundraising efforts, Sandy announced that retired psychiatrist M. Michael Ishii, MD, has already given an extremely generous $100,000 gift to the Restoring Strength & Hope campaign. Ryan Brothers also gave a generous gift. 

As a way to encourage the community to join us in Restoring Strength & Hope to those living with mental illness, KennedyC and PDL Digital produced, as an in kind donation, this video that provides a glimpse into our current Behavioral Health unit and describes how the redesigned unit will help our patients and families heal. If you know someone who might like to donate to the campaign, please direct them to or ask them to call (608) 258-5600.