Idaho State Hospital South

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Idaho State Hospital South
Established 1885
Opened 1886
Current Status Active
Building Style Single Building (Original)
Location Blackfoot, ID
Alternate Names
  • Idaho Insane Asylum
  • South Idaho Sanitarium


On July 2, 1886, four years before Idaho was granted statehood, the Idaho Insane Asylum opened its doors. At that time, patients with mental illness were referred to as “inmates” and were committed for life with the possibility of parole. The psychiatric treatment of the inmates was primarily custodial care while working on the farm, in the garden, barns, orchards, shops and laundry.

Many of those who were sent to the hospital remained there for years, if not the rest of their lives. A Biennial Report of the Board of the Directors of the Idaho Insane Asylum for the years 1903-1904, illustrates the situation: “The patients remaining in the asylum are coming to be more and more of the feeble-minded and helpless class of the old who require increased care. There are a number of patients here who have been insane for more than 20 years and a still greater number who have been insane for 10 or 15 years. All hope of recovery has passed in these cases and whatever of the joy and comfort of living remain for them must be had in the asylum.”

Today State Hospital South in Blackfoot provides psychiatric inpatient treatment and skilled nursing care for Idaho’s adult and adolescent citizens with the most serious and persistent mental illnesses. The hospital works in partnership with families and communities to enable clients to return to community living. The facility is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, and is certified by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. State Hospital South includes 90 psychiatric adult beds, 29 skilled nursing beds, and 16 beds for adolescents. It also maintains a statewide program to restore competency of criminal justice patients.