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

Larsen tours Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital

 

October 4, 2017 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, left, and Kim Mercier, director of business development, talk to nurses and staff members at the recently opened Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital on Sept. 29.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen stopped by the recently opened Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital to get a tour of the region's new facility.

The 115-bed hospital opened in June at 3955 156th St. NE, Marysville.

Larsen represents Washington's second congressional district which includes Arlington, Marysville, Tulalip among other ares in the northwest corner of the state.

Kim Mercier, director of business development, said that the hospital has been doing well

"It's going really well. I guess the best part for us is that everybody is happy we're here, and we're thrilled to provide this service," she said.

Mercier noted there has been a pretty big gap in services for the area.

The Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is the first acute care psychiatric hospital that has been built in the state in 80 years.

Larsen said he appreciates the work that the staff is doing at the new hospital.

"I know this area and I really care about this area. I've noticed that mental health issues, well I don't know if they've grown more serious or we've become more aware of it," said Larsen. "Maybe it's a little bit of both."

The psychiatric hospital provides care and support for individuals suffering from acute crises.

"We're an acute care hospital so everything we do here is short term," said Mercier.

"We don't stay with the patients like you normally might at a hospital with wrap-around services," she said.

The goal is to stabilize individuals and potentially refer them to resources that will help them lead a healthier life if necessary.

"When patients arrive in the beginning, all the disciplines will do an assessment, what our goals are for treatment and what the interventions will be," said Christine Costello, director of clinical services at the hospital.

Those disciplines include registered nurses, therapists and chemical dependency professionals.

"We create a treatment plan based on that and we invite the patient into that process," she said.

Although the hospital treats homeless individuals, they end up treating those who are not homeless more often.

"A lot of people assume we focus on the homeless population, but that's not most of what we do," said Mercier.

There are also partial hospitalization options for those who don't want to be at the hospital the entire time.

"For a lot of people, when you say the term 'psychiatric hospital' it's like 'ugh, I'm not going there, I'm not crazy,'" said Mercier.

Partial hospitalization takes some of that stigma away, she added.

The hospital also plans to implement specialized programs for local populations.

"There's a huge population of veterans with Whidbey and the Naval base, but they have to drive all the way to Bremerton," said Mercier. Now that a hospital is available closer, Mercier hopes that they can serve that population.

"There was a gap there that was really easy to identify," she said.

Other programs will continue to be developed at the hospital.

"We'll also introduce a women's program and whatever else we can identify in the community," she said.

"A lot of it is going to be driven by what the community's needs are for mental health and wellness," said Mercier.

A mobile assessment team will also be able to support organizations around the Puget Sound.

"We have a contract agreement with Tulalip Tribes. They have a mental health department, but they don't have a team available 24/7, so we're going to fill that gap," said Mercier.

That team will likely "branch off to some more of the rural hospitals," as well, she said.

Christopher Andersson

photo BY CHRISTOPHER ANDERSSON U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen looks at some equipment at the Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital along with hospital staff on Sept. 29. From left, Rep. Larsen, Christine Costello, director of clinical services at the hospital, John Beall, chief nursing officer, and Daniel Blue, director of risk management and performance improvement.

Although the hospital opened on June 12, they are still ramping up their operations.

They were recently approved to take Medicare to treat patients and expect to be approved for Medicaid this month.

At full capacity the hospital will likely have 250 employees.

"Every two weeks we've had a new employee orientation," said John Beall, chief nursing officer at the hospital.

"There's a lot of training that goes with training a psych nurse," he said.

He expects that sometime around February the hospital will be fully open.

Mercier said she hopes the word gets out about the services available at the local hospital, although their location next to Smokey Point Boulevard is getting them attention.

"It's about people learning that we're here and what the acute care is about," she said.

More information about the Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is available at smokeypointbehavioralhospital.com.

 

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