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Providence looks to open new psychiatric unit in Everett

The Daily Herald - 4/19/2019

EVERETT — A new psychiatric department at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett could soon fill some gaps in the health-care network.

A future 24-bed facility at the Colby Campus is in line to be one of the area's larger recipients of state capital dollars this year. It would serve people who suffer from physical and behavioral health issues at the same time. That might include patients with a condition such as diabetes or heart disease who also have some form of mental illness.

"I think this is a huge improvement in mental health care, in terms of keeping patients close to home and in Snohomish County," said Kim Williams, CEO of Providence Health & Services Northwest Washington. "We're very pleased to be able to offer this facility and appreciative of the state finding funds to make it happen."

The new department would be better for patients and caregivers, while relieving pressure on other hospital departments, according to Providence.

If the project progresses on schedule, construction would start next year with the goal of opening in 2021, Williams said.

The facility would admit voluntary and involuntary psychiatric patients over age 16. It would include two units. Eighteen beds would serve short-term patients; six others would be for patients with 90- to 180-day civil commitments.

The grant enables Providence to bring much needed treatment beds online swiftly, lawmakers said.

"They're helping us by providing inpatient psychiatric beds that we desperately need," said Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett.

Rep. Steve Tharinger, a Port Townsend Democrat who is chairman of the House Capital Budget Committee, said Providence was "ahead of the game with the work they've done."

"It was the kind of facility we were looking for in an area where we were looking to serve more people," he said. "It will help get people out of jails and out of emergency rooms and into treatment faster."

The cost of construction and equipment is estimated at $8.6 million. Most of that money could soon be available. The state House version of the capital budget would provide $4.7 million for the project, and a version now making its way through the Senate$4.2 million. Providence last year received two state capital grants for $2 million each, and expects to cover any additional costs with a grant from the nonprofit Providence General Foundation, Williams said.

For now, there are three psychiatric hospitals in Snohomish County.

Fairfax Behavioral Health operates a 30-bed unit for adults at Providence's Pacific Campus in Everett and a 34-bed psychiatric unit for adults 55 and older at EvergreenHealth Monroe.

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital opened in 2017. The Marysville facility has 115 beds and includes a unit for adolescents.

"Even with Smokey Point being open, on any given day we have at least one dozen if not more mental health patients on a medical surgical unit here," Williams said. "We are caring for many of these patients today because we are unable to place them in a mental health facility."

Plans could come into better focus after state lawmakers pass the final version of the capital budget. The regular session is scheduled to close April 28.