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Alexandria hospital celebrates six years of operation

Minnesota's first Community Behavioral Health Hospital (CBHH), located in Alexandria, is marking six years of providing mental health services to area residents.

CBHH-Alexandria was part of a redesign of mental health services in Minnesota. It was intended to replace impatient mental health treatment provided on large regional treatment center campuses with smaller, 16-bed psychiatric hospitals and an array of other community mental health supports.

The Alexandria hospital provides individualized, person-centered treatment close to the patient's home, community and the support of family and friends. In its six years, the facility has served more than 1,000 patients.

Administrator John Cosco, who opened the facility in February 2006, is preparing to retire August 1.

"I've been a senior-level health care executive for the past 40 years, and the commitment, dedication and passion that I have seen displayed by our staff in Alexandria is unparalleled," said Cosco. "Here, people are treated as people, not as numbers."

The average length of stay at the Alexandria hospital is 20 to 22 days, compared to 45 to 50 days at regional treatment center campuses. Across the community behavioral health hospital system, fewer than 10 percent of patients are readmitted within 30 days of their discharge.

Cosco led administrators of CBHH-Alexandria in developing relationships between the facility and community hospitals, mental health centers and local social services agencies.

"Our hospitals go the next step to help restore people to their actual surroundings," said Cosco. "This is something that I've strived to commit to throughout my career."

The Department of Human Services State Operated Services operates seven CBHHs across Minnesota in Alexandria, Annandale, Bemidji, Baxter, Fergus Falls, Rochester and St. Peter.