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Helmut Schmidt, Published June 21 2013

Adolescent treatment center Luther Hall gets makeover

FARGO – Luther Hall is “brand new inside,” thanks to a $1.8 million renovation and expansion.

The residential psychiatric treatment facility is now safer, more homelike and nearly doubled in size thanks to the work, Administrative Director Jennifer Mitchell said.

“It’s a little more homey, a little more relaxing. They (the children) have space,” Mitchell said.

The 16-bed facility at 1505 5th Ave. S. is operated by Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota. It’s one of six such centers in North Dakota.

Luther Hall takes in children and adolescents ages 10 to 18 who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and need 24-hour care and treatment. It also offers care for youths with alcohol and substance abuse issues.

From September to January, when the bulk of the construction was done, the youths were housed at the Rivers Edge facility in Fargo. Operations were run out of three locations, Mitchell said.

Before the makeover, funded by the Abound in Hope capital campaign, the 1962 building looked run down and had safety issues, including exposed sprinkler pipes. It also lacked an elevator for handicap access.

Now, residents’ rooms on the upper level of the facility look similar to college dorm rooms.

“The kids have a sense of pride,” Mitchell said. “They take pride in their environment and their rooms.”

Those rooms wrap around a central staff desk.

On the lower level are a family-style dining area and dayroom, along with rooms for doctors, medical care and family therapy.

The facility also has a chapel area and an art therapy room, where a piano, drum set, guitars and other instruments are ready for use.

A multipurpose room was added with a large-screen TV, a Wii game station, pool and pingpong tables, and several pieces of exercise equipment, including treadmills and stationary bikes.

It adds a sense of normalcy and is a favorite hangout, Mitchell said.

“They’re in treatment. It’s not supposed to be a punishment,” she said.

The entry was also revamped, with administrative offices gathered together. Two visitation rooms were added, and the conference room was doubled in size, Mitchell said. An elevator was also installed.

“Everything is brand new inside,” said Clinical Director Angell Naslund.

The youths attend school in classrooms run by the Fargo School District.

Young people from throughout North Dakota are referred to the facility by county agencies, the state Department of Juvenile Services, or their parents or guardians.

The Fargo facility has an average of seven children on its waiting list at any one time, Naslund said.

On Monday morning, invitation-only tours will be given for the facility’s neighbors, Mitchell said.

“It was a long time coming,” Mitchell said.

“But worth the wait,” Naslund added.