North Central Health Care (NCHC) Youth Behavioral Health Hospital for Ages 13–17 Now Open

Written by Jessica Meadows

North Central Health Care’s Youth Behavioral Health Hospital is now open and accepting patients. Located on the NCHC Wausau Campus and available to youth and families in Marathon, Lincoln, and Langlade Counties, the Youth Hospital is the first step in life-changing care and inpatient treatment for young people between the ages of 13 and 17 years who are experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis.

The NCHC Youth Behavioral Health Hospital is the only County-affiliated, inpatient psychiatric hospital in the State of Wisconsin.

A warm, welcoming lobby to the Youth Behavioral Health Hospital at North Central Health Care in Wausau.
A warm, welcoming lobby to the Youth Behavioral Health Hospital at North Central Health Care in Wausau. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)

Under the direction of a psychiatrist and other licensed medical and professional staff, 24-hour care is provided in a secure setting that provides a safe and healthy environment where healing can begin. Designed as an 8-bed facility, this brand-new building is located on the north side of the 17-acre NCHC Campus and has been specifically designed to provide care for youth.

Each child is unique, and therefore so is their care and treatment.

The space is modern, offers plenty of private and group spaces, and has a beautiful outdoor courtyard, as well as plenty of windows to let the natural light inside. Designed with an open concept floor plan, the facility was specifically created to provide tranquil spaces to foster healing and growth for adolescents.

A warm, welcoming lobby to the Youth Behavioral Health Hospital at North Central Health Care in Wausau.
Living room area with television and seating that overlooks the outdoor patio. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)

All rooms in the Youth Behavioral Health Hospital are single occupancy, so each patient will have plenty of privacy in his or her own space. Each bedroom is furnished with the basics, including a twin bed, a nightstand with storage space, and a desk with a chair. Furniture has been carefully selected to meet the safety requirements for behavioral health care settings.

Private Bedroom at NCHC Youth Behavioral Health Hospital
Each patient has a private room with natural light and furniture designed for a safe and comfortable stay. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)
Bathroom and shower facilities at NCHC Youth Behavioral Health Hospital
Modern bathroom and shower facilities in the new Youth Behavioral Health Hospital. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)

Each patient will also have the opportunity to use our recreation room.

Open Concept Living and Dining Room at Youth Behavioral Health Hospital
The open-concept living room and dining room area offers plenty of space and natural light to encourage healing and group activities. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)

Admission to the Youth Hospital

All patients admitted to the Youth Behavioral Health Hospital must be referred through the North Central Health Care Crisis Center. Upon arrival at the Crisis Center, youth are taken to a safe, secure setting where de-escalation can begin and an assessment can take place by youth-care professionals.

What Is a Crisis?

A crisis is whatever an individual, family, or group feels is a crisis at the time. Crisis situations can take many forms. Some crisis situations may include the following:

  • Feeling overwhelmed, depressed, helpless, hopeless, or unable to cope with difficult situations in one’s life
  • Talking about or attempting suicide
  • Being bullied or experiencing threats of violence
  • Abusing drugs and/or alcohol
  • Developing an eating disorder
  • Having difficulties at school
  • Experiencing other mental health emergencies

The Youth Hospital provides short-term therapeutic interventions by reducing and stabilizing children’s crises and linking patients to the necessary care to manage any diagnosed illness(es) and to help these children better navigate their worlds.

We invite you to download and share our Youth Behavioral Health Hospital brochure.

NCHC Youth Behavioral Health Hospital Brochure

How Long Do Kids Stay at the Youth Hospital?

The average length of stay at the Youth Hospital is approximately 5-7 days and is determined based on clinical need. Treatment includes regularly scheduled evidenced-based group therapy, as well as individual therapy, and a variety of skill-building and educational groups.

Upon admission, a highly skilled treatment team will meet with each child individually. They will then work together to develop the best treatment plan for that child.

Once a patient has met the criteria to deem him or her safe and ready for discharge, the Social Worker and treatment team will work together with the patient and family to develop a discharge plan that promotes safety and meets the child’s individual needs.

Our goal is to keep kids moving forward on a path of healthy recovery.

When patients are ready for discharge, youth and families will have resources in place to provide treatment as needed. Each child, and each situation, is treated uniquely and youth are referred to the appropriate level of care based on the assessment of the Youth Crisis team.

If your child is experiencing a behavioral health emergency or crisis,
call the NCHC Crisis Center:
1.800.799.0122 or 715.845.4326
1100 Lake View Drive, Wausau, WI 54403

NCHC Youth Behavioral Health Hospital open areas
Modern, flexible spaces with artwork promote a natural, healing environment. (Photo courtesy of NCHC.)

A Space to Heal. A Space to Grow.

The Youth Behavioral Health Hospital offers a variety of programming to support mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Our multidisciplinary team schedules each patient daily for appropriate groups and activities, including the following:

  • Goals Group
  • Dialectal Behavioral Therapy
  • Acceptance & Commitment Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Family Relationships
  • Psycho-educational Groups
  • Health & Wellness
  • Trauma Group
  • Communications Group
  • Life Skills
  • Coping Skills Group
  • Arts & Crafts Group
  • Skills Practice
  • Discharge & Safety Planning

A Glimpse at the Larger Picture for the NCHC Campus Renovations

In April 2017, work on a Master Facility Plan for the NCHC Wausau Campus began. This plan was presented to the Marathon County Board in April 2018. Working jointly with Marathon County and NCHC, goals were established for the campus renovations.

North Central Health Care Goals

  • Efficient Clinical Operations
  • Improved Wayfinding/Security/Access
  • Incorporate Evidence-Based Design
  • Support Higher Acuity
  • Deinstitutionalize, flexibility
  • Operational More Efficiently
  • Efficiently Consolidate
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Leader in Educational Programming
  • Quality Workspaces

Marathon County Goals

  • Quality of Care
  • Financially Sustainable
  • Comprehensive Approach for County

Initial bonding approval for renovations was approved in June 2018. In September 2018, architectural design and engineering firms were hired to work with both NCHC and Marathon County teams, resulting in the preliminary design was presented in February 2019.

Renovations on the NCHC Wausau Campus include a new Skilled Nursing Home, an Adult Crisis Community-Based Residential Facility, an Aquatic Therapy Center (completed in June 2020), and renovations to the existing Behavioral Health Programs and support areas.

Partnership for Progress

While NCHC is extremely pleased to open our Youth Behavioral Health Hospital, we know that caring for the mental and behavioral health of young people and adults takes a community-based approach and the joint efforts of all of our local healthcare, law enforcement, community programs, and community members. These collaborative efforts ensure that mental and behavioral health will be priorities for our youth and adults long into our future.

NCHC and Marathon County are excited to offer these services to our residents and look forward to the future of providing exceptional behavioral health care in Central Wisconsin.

Jessica_MeadowsJessica Meadows

Communications & Marketing Director  |  North Central Health Care

As the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at North Central Health Care (NCHC), Jessica Meadows is passionate about being able to use her creative talents to connect people to healthcare, resources, and networking that will impact their life in a positive way. Prior to joining NCHC, she was a Creative Director and leader at a marketing agency in the Stevens Point area. With almost 20 years’ experience in print, web, social media, video, radio, and public relations, it was important for her to connect back to her roots here in the Wausau area, where she and her husband raise their two young children. When she’s not busy at an event or volunteering, she enjoys playing sports, coaching, biking, traveling, and exploring the outdoors.  Email Jessica Meadows.

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