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Tom Smart, Deseret News
LDS Hospital CEO Jim Sheets shows one of the new birthing rooms during the grand reopening of LDS Hospital Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY — Even though it never closed, LDS Hospital was officially reopened Monday following a five-year, $32 million renovation.

The renovations were made as a result of Intermountain Healthcare moving its flagship services to the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, giving LDS Hospital an opportunity to focus its efforts as a community hospital that specializes in highly personal care, said hospital administrator and CEO Jim Sheets. 

"It's kind of launching into a new era for LDS Hospital," he said.

In addition to remodeling the hospital's lobby and patient areas, Sheets said the total patient capacity was reduced from 450 beds to 212 beds, allowing the hospital to offer larger, more comfortable suites as well as expand services unique to LDS Hospital, such as bone marrow transplanting, the Joint Replacement Center and inpatient psychiatric services.

Sheets described the new format as an elite community hospital, one that offers "bread and butter" service to the community as well as a number of high-end treatments.

"We take a lot of pride in the services we're able to provide," he said.

LDS Hospital's psychiatric unit is the only IHC inpatient facility for behavioral health patients in the Salt Lake Valley, said Mark Foote, the hospital's medical director of behavioral health. Added space from the hospital renovation has allowed the inpatient unit to increase from 27 to 39 beds in the past few years, he said. The unit includes six beds dedicated to behavioral health treatment for geriatric patients. 

Foote said the support from administrators has been great and additional expansions to the hospital's inpatient services are currently under consideration. The department covers everything from substance abuse to psychiatric care, and roughly a quarter of all patients entering LDS Hospital do so seeking behavioral and emotional treatment.

"Depression is such a common illness," Foote said. "A lot of people are untreated and a lot never seek treatment."

Sheets agreed, saying the hospital is proud to offer inpatient services for the ever-increasing number of people who need it.

"There is a huge community need," he said. "There's always a general need for health care, but we've seen an increase of mental health patients in the community."

The western states typically have the highest suicide rates in the country, according to Foote. He didn't have exact figures but said Utah is among the top 10 states for the number of suicide attempts.

According to the Utah Department Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Utah teens and the fourth leading cause of death for Utah adults. The state's suicide rate is consistently higher than the national average and in October of 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study showing that Utah adults had the highest prevalence of suicidal thoughts in the country.

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Behavioral health, particularly inpatient psychiatric services, is typically a short-term treatment where doctors help patients stabilize during or after a crisis, Foote said. The average stay for a patient is between five and six days, but a patient can be admitted for anything from a single day to several weeks. After leaving the hospital, he said, patients typically continue to be treated through outpatient services.

Primary care physicians handle the majority of treatment for individuals suffering from depression, Foote said, and will then refer their patients to the hospital or other inpatient services if they require additional assistance or appear to be a danger to themselves.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com