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TidalHealth Nanticoke receives $1 million federal grant to improve behavioral health care

Sen. Tom Carper and TidalHealth Nanticoke President Penny Short stand in front of a podium with American flags to their left.
Sarah Petrowich
Delaware Public Media
Sen. Tom Carper and TidalHealth Nanticoke President Penny Short thank those involved with securing the federal grant.

Sen. Tom Carper and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester secure a $1 million Congressionally Directed Spending grant award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The funding will go toward developing a dedicated, private and safe behavioral health treatment area within the TidalHealth Nanticoke hospital’s Emergency Department in Seaford.

Carper says this investment will help ensure incoming patients receive psychiatric care, but will also help to keep current patients’ care from being interrupted.

“We want to make sure that not only do people get the kind of care that they need, but they also, on the mental health side, for those who are entering the emergency room, the care that they get is good and it’s calming and it works on a number of levels.”

Director of the Emergency Department for TidalHealth says creating a separate space for patients in mental distress is crucial for their care: "These folks are right in the middle of our emergency department, so people in cardiac arrest or trauma may go by kids crying in the background, and that really is no place for you to get your thoughts together and to start working on a plan for your healing and for your mental wellness."

Additionally, Carper hopes this type of hospital space will inspire other states to create similar ones.

“As it turns out, this is not a challenge just for us in Delaware, it’s not just a challenge for us in Seaford and Nanticoke Hospital, but it’s something that’s nationwide. But we have a pretty good idea of how to deal with it.”

TidalHealth Nanticoke President Penny Short says they were among many that submitted for the grant, and the push for hospital renovations is several months in the making.

Before residing in Dover, Delaware, Sarah Petrowich moved around the country with her family, spending eight years in Fairbanks, Alaska, 10 years in Carbondale, Illinois and four years in Indianapolis, Indiana. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2023 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science.