From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: State hospitals and SWITC make great strides to better serve Idahoans

December 22, 2023
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

During my five years with the Department of Health and Welfare the state’s three psychiatric hospitals have made incredible strides to improve their level of service for Idahoans. The Southwest Idaho Treatment Center, a center that serves people with developmental disabilities, has also achieved incredible milestones.

The three state hospitals—North, South, and West—are managed by the Division of Behavioral Health. Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC) is managed by the Division of Family and Community Services.

State Hospital West

State Hospital West is a 16-bed adolescent psychiatric facility that opened in May 2021 in Nampa for youth ages 12 through 17. State Hospital West was accredited this month by The Joint Commission, the nation’s oldest and largest standards setting and accrediting body in healthcare. 

Accreditation is a significant accomplishment that demonstrates the hospital’s ongoing commitment to continuous improvement in patient care. 

State Hospital West provides a secure setting where youth receive more intensive comprehensive behavioral health services than they could in a community hospital, and they receive it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

State Hospital South

State Hospital South in Blackfoot and State Hospital North in Orofino serve adults civilly committed to the state for treatment of a mental illness or to be restored to competency for criminal proceedings.

State Hospital South is Idaho’s oldest and largest state hospital. It opened in 1886 and has a 110-bed psychiatric facility and a 42-bed skilled nursing facility for seniors called Syringa Chalet. State Hospital South has been Joint Commission accredited since 1998.

When State Hospital West opened in 2021, it made space available at State Hospital South where adolescents had previously been housed. State Hospital South was subsequently converted into a more secure unit.

Syringa Chalet was also expanded during my time with the department. It became a skilled nursing facility in 1990 and was expanded from 29 to 42 beds when it moved into a new building in 2020.

State Hospital North

State Hospital North in Orofino is working toward accreditation by The Joint Commission. When achieved, this will be a reflection of the hospital’s commitment to meeting established performance standards for care and safety.

State Hospital North is working closely with with accreditation consultants to identify gaps and make recommendations to boost safety and achieve best practice standards. This has resulted in many positive changes at the hospital that will benefit both staff and patients for years to come. I’m confident the hospital will be accredited in the near future. 

Joint Commission accreditation, once achieved, will allow the hospital to bill Medicaid and Medicare for services provided to patients covered under those insurance plans. 

Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC)

The mission of Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC) in Nampa is to provide services as a short-term therapeutic stabilization and transition center for clients, focused mostly on those who have criminal activity or severe behaviors. 

SWITC has become a stabilization center for people with intricate and challenging needs, with the goal of transitioning them to effective community placements for long-term services.

SWITC is undergoing a major overhaul as part of the Crisis System Improvement Project. Outdated or unused buildings have been razed, and construction will soon begin on an assessment and observation unit, and transitional step-down units. 

The project team also explored licensing and accreditation types for future services and is field testing elements of the proposed new treatment model. The project team is working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to establish federal funding for future services.

I’m also proud to report that SWITC received compliments for positive improvements in a recent July 3 investigation by the Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations (OPE). 

Thanks to the teams who do this work

The strides made by the three state hospitals and SWITC are nothing short of commendable, and the staffs in Orofino, Nampa, and Blackfoot deserve the credit. Their concerted efforts have resulted in significant improvements in patient care and services, and I’m proud to have been a part of the work during my time with DHW.

These accomplishments help underscore that Idaho's mental health landscape is evolving positively, with a shared commitment to the well-being of Idaho citizens. 

I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend! 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at 

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