Helmsley Charitable Trust Grants $2.5 Million To Help Sheridan Memorial Hospital Bring Innovative Behavioral Health Model To Wyoming


The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has granted $2.5 million to help Sheridan Memorial Hospital implement an innovative behavioral health care model that provides assessment, treatment, and healing to patients experiencing crisis in a comforting setting.

The new Behavioral Health Unit at Sheridan Memorial Hospital will serve Sheridan and the Northcentral Wyoming region with an EmPATH (Emergency Psychiatric Assessment, Treatment, and Healing) Unit and a Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU). The facility will offer walk-in behavioral health urgent care, a crisis stabilization area, eight adult inpatient psychiatric beds, two pediatric psychiatric beds, and therapy space.

“With the opening of the Behavioral Health Unit, we will be able to offer a space designed specifically to allow room for patients to receive care with dignity, and a space for the mental health team to learn from each patient the particular needs and challenges he or she will face when leaving Sheridan Memorial Hospital,” said Mike McCafferty, Chief Executive Officer at Sheridan Memorial Hospital. “This will be a space dedicated to people with mental health concerns, into which we can pull together a network of support and resources.”

The EmPATH Unit will provide patients with a model of care in a welcoming and calming setting, away from the sometimes chaotic environment of an emergency department. The goal is to ensure that patients feel comfortable and secure as they receive care and support, leading to a more positive experience.

“The EmPATH model for quickly getting patients the behavioral help they need in a calming environment works so much better than having them wait for hours in a hospital emergency room,” said Walter Panzirer, a Trustee with the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “Helmsley is excited to bring this innovative model to Northcentral Wyoming.”

EmPATH Units have been found to be incredibly effective in acute behavioral health crisis situations throughout the country, with patient data showing that up to 80 percent of patients can be stabilized within just 24 hours. This approach has also helped to reduce the number of individuals being involuntarily hospitalized.

“The ability to implement this unique model of care comes at a time when we see more and more patients seeking crisis-level help for mental health issues,” said Dr. Luke Goddard, Chief Medical Officer at Sheridan Memorial Hospital. “The EmPATH and Crisis Stabilization Unit will make it possible for us to provide more focused care during a time of crisis.”

Wyoming faces a critical need for timely and effective psychiatric treatment to citizens with mental health and/or substance abuse disorders. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the prevalence of these issues and disrupted an overburdened and under-resourced service delivery system across the state. Wyoming also faces a shortage of inpatient psychiatric beds and a limited number of trained professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and social workers.

Sheridan Memorial Hospital is working to create a regional solution, facilitating the delivery of timely and effective treatment. The goal is to reduce the high rates of recidivism, inappropriate and unsafe environments for patients and staff, and to help lower Wyoming’s consistently high suicide rate, which is double the national average.

Construction on the Behavioral Health and EmPATH Unit at Sheridan Memorial Hospital is anticipated to begin in the summer of 2024, with completion expected in 2026. To create space for this important new unit, the hospital will undergo a series of department moves and updates during the next year. This includes work in the Pharmacy, Respiratory Care, Medical-Surgical and Pediatric units.

Sheridan Memorial Hospital also received funding through a matching grant from Wyoming’s State Loan and Investment Board and a matching $2.5 million commitment from Sheridan County. Sheridan Memorial Hospital will engage the Sheridan Memorial Hospital Foundation to encourage philanthropic support from the community.

About Sheridan Memorial Hospital

For over 100 years, Sheridan Memorial Hospital has been serving our community with excellent patient-centered care. Licensed for 88 beds, Sheridan Memorial Hospital is a progressive, state-of-the-art facility in beautiful Sheridan, Wyoming. With sophisticated technology and services beyond what one might expect in a hospital this size, patients can take comfort in knowing they are receiving high-quality care. Our patient satisfaction surveys tell us that we are providing exemplary service to our patients and their families. We are proud of our 750-plus experienced and caring employees, 66 physicians, and 36 advanced practice clinicians serving in 25 specialties, who are meeting and exceeding the needs and expectations of Sheridan and the surrounding communities. For more information, visit www.sheridanhospital.org.

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $4 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $600 million to organizations and initiatives in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.

To get involved and learn more about this project, please contact The Foundation at 307.673.2418.