The Department of Social and Health Services is seeking public input by Aug. 28 on a proposed 48-bed secure behavioral health facility in Vancouver.
It’s part of the state’s shift toward opening smaller mental health treatment centers in the communities where people are already familiar and supported, and away from reliance on Western State Hospital — a large psychiatric facility in Lakewood.
The state is eyeing property adjacent to and owned by Columbia River Mental Health Services at 6926 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., in the Bagley Downs neighborhood. The facility would provide 90- and 180-day stays under the Involuntary Treatment Act, which allows people to be civilly committed to hospitals or treatment settings if a judge finds they pose a threat to themselves or others.
More information on the project can be found online at dshs.wa.gov/bha/division-state-hospitals/community-based-treatment, where people can submit comments and sign up for email notifications. Feedback can also be submitted by emailing Larry Covey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later in July, the agency will hold a community meeting to share information about the project, the agency said in a news release Wednesday.
According to the website, Clark County is the preferred location for the facility “due to the lack of local 90- to 180-day civil commitment beds and evaluation and treatment facilities. While other regions have projects planned, or are in the process of development, the Clark County region is still lacking adequate beds.”
After the state began planning this 48-bed facility last year, for-profit mental health service provider Telecare shut down its 11-bed facility.
Washington ranks 47th in the nation in capacity for appropriate mental health services.
The Vancouver campus would consist of two or three secure, locked buildings divided into three units with 16 beds apiece. Some rooms would be shared, while others would be private. According to pre-application documents submitted earlier this year to the city of Vancouver, the buildings would also have areas for group activities, laundry rooms, a kitchen and an outdoor area surrounded by a chain-link fence with anti-climb fabric.
Craig Pridemore, CEO of Columbia River Mental Health Services, expressed interest in operating at least one of the buildings.
The Department of Social and Health Services said the site offers an opportunity to work with community partners and create a behavioral health campus with a range of in- and out-patient services. Being near state Highway 500 gives access to area hospitals, and nearby housing could help patients return to the community.
Besides the parcel in Bagley Downs, the state studied the viability of locating a behavioral health community in five other sites around Clark County. If the state purchases the land from Columbia River Mental Health Services, neighbors will be notified by certified mail.