LeiLani Hauge, Dept. of Health, Direct Care and Treatment, Local 1602 Helping patients return to their communities in a safe and sober manner


I work at a Community Behavioral Health Hospital in Fergus Falls serving folks who have been civilly committed due to deteriorating mental health or chemical dependency issues. I help patients learn healthy coping skills to better manage the symptoms they are facing, so they have the tools to return to their communities in a safe and sober manner.

I have seen many folks who are struggling in their symptoms, including visual, auditory hallucinations, verbal and physical outbursts, and not being able to manage their emotional needs in a healthy manner; Patients often resort to self-harm like cutting or scratching themselves until they bleed. This is a physical example of the pain, trauma and hopelessness these individuals are experiencing. Often, they come to our hospital with medical needs, such as diabetes, seizure disorders, and other physical ailments, which are as uncontrolled as their mental health needs. I can only imagine what a frightening time it is for someone to cope with so many barriers to live a healthy, goal-driven life.

Our local hospital has a small psychiatric unit, of about 12 beds. They tend to admit those with depression, anxiety and other types of non-aggressive disorders. The nearest major psychiatric hospital is an hour away in Fargo, ND. In greater Minnesota, options are limited for a locked setting. Most local hospitals will hold psychiatric folks in the ER until a bed will open at our facility as they do not have the resources to care for patients deep in their psychosis. We accept the people that private hospitals do not want or do not have the ability to ensure the safety of both the patient and staff. We are extensively trained to work with extremely aggressive, assaultive, and agitated patients.

Our facility not only fulfills our patients’ physical needs such as providing medical stabilization of their bodily ailments, but we also provide tools to support their mental health needs, such as medication management, therapy support and learning the skills to break the cycle of re-hospitalization. We have a team of skilled professionals that include human services technicians, social workers, nursing staff, providers to therapists, occupational/recreational therapists, behavioral assistants. We all work with one goal in mind – to help the most vulnerable return to a successful life in their community.

We consistently provide person-centered treatment for every individual who walks through our door, regardless of where they came from or what their story is. I serve your neighbors with mental illness from across the state, from St. Louis County to Blue Earth County; from Clay County to Ramsey County. It is crucial that you and the public understand and value the contributions the Community Behavioral Health Hospitals make to ensure a better and safer Minnesota and prioritize adequate DCT funding so we can continue to serve the state’s most vulnerable with the dignity and care they deserve.

~ LeiLani Hauge, Dept. of Health, Direct Care and Treatment, Local 1602