North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Work begins on Behavioral Hospital

 

Christopher Andersson

Local officials break ground at the site of the Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital in north Marysville on July 26. From left, Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce president Jesica Stickles, Tulalip Tribes general manager Misty Napeahi, US HealthVest president and CEO Richard Kresch, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, executive director of National Association of Mental Illness Snohomish County Lisa Utter and John Nowoj, vice president of architecture company Mortensen.

Construction has begun for the Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital, a 115-bed psychiatric hospital that will serve the Snohomish County area.

The hospital will be located at 3955 156th St. NE in the north Marysville area.

"Snohomish County has fewer services per population than other parts of the state, and Washington state as a whole, at least in terms of psychiatric hospital beds, is dramatically underserved compared to other states, so we think we're filling a gap," said Richard Kresch, president and CEO of US HealthVest, the organization opening the hospital.

US HealthVest runs psychiatric hospitals across the nation and currently has 14 hospital open with two more and the Smokey Point location under construction.

The 70,000-square-foot hospital will be one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in the state once completed.

Kresch expects construction to finish in June next year and for the hospital to open shortly afterward.

Part of the mission of the hospital is "to accept all patients for mental health treatment, regardless of ability to pay," said Kresch.

"We accept every insurance that there is that will contract with us," he said.

"Typically on an in-patient service there is either insurance or there's charity care if someone meets the criteria, which would make the care free if they didn't have the ability to pay," he said.

Free mental health assessments will also be offered at all times.

Services at the hospital include an acute crisis stabilization unit for patients in crisis, and programs for youth, programs for the elderly and a women's program.

More specialized services will also be available.

"As a company we have always been active in the treatment of veterans and the military community," said Kresch.

A culturally-specific Native American unit is also expected to be available.

"We have had a lot of experience in working with tribes across the country," said Kresch.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on July 26.

At the event, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring said that much of the county is facing problems treating those with mental health problems.

"It probably doesn't come as a surprise to most that we face a lot of mental health and substance abuse problems in Snohomish County, and not just in the county, but in the nation as a whole," said Nehring.

The police department cannot be left alone to solve those problems, he said.

"We have to find a way to provide lasting solutions to people who are facing mental health issues and addiction," he said.

Misty Napeahi, general manager of the Tulalip Tribes, who has worked for 15 years in the field of behavioral health, said the hospital is something that the area needs.

"Every day when we're driving up and down the Rez, we see so many homeless people, hundreds of them, who live in the backwoods of our community," she said.

"So many are people who have mental health issues and there's no system in place working to treat them," she said.

For people age 10-34, mental health problems are one of the leading causes of hospitalization. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people of that age, said president of Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce Jesica Stickles.

"Snohomish County has a huge heart, and right now that heart is heavy and the community pulls together and does everything they can ... but we all know it's not enough, we need professionals," she said.

Courtesy of US HealthVest

A rendering of what the Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital will look like once it's completed in 2017.

Mental health hospitals are needed to fight that kind of community problem, said Nehring.

"What kind of hospitals are we putting these people in? These are the kinds of hospitals we should be putting them in," he said.

Napeahi said that currently there is not much help for people who need mental health assistance.

"We send people to the hospital, they get a 72-hour hold, and they're right back, and we don't know what to do," she said.

She hopes that the stigma around mental health treatment can be forgotten in the future, so better health can be available to all who need it.

"This is about our brain being impacted or diseased in some way, and we need treatment. Just like if I'm a diabetic, I need treatment," she said.

More information about the upcoming hospital is available at http://www.smokeypointbehavioralhospital.com.

 

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