State approves funds for Peninsula-wide behavioral health facility

State lawmakers have approved $7.2 million for Phase 1 of a behavioral health center in Sequim that will be jointly operated by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe of Blyn, Olympic Medical Center of Port Angeles and Jefferson Healthcare hospital of Port Townsend.

It’s expected to employ 50-100 workers, tribal Health Services Director Brent Simcosky said May 3.

The appropriation is part of $4.9 billion statewide in capital funding approved last week by the Democrat-controlled House and Senate for a 2019-21 overall budget package awaiting the signature of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.

The appropriation is for what the funding request called the Olympic Peninsula Behavioral Health Campus.

It’s part of $123 million in capital funding expected to land in the 24th legislative District, which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and the northern half of Grays Harbor County.

Other 24th District funding includes $1.4 million for a Port Hadlock wastewater facility, $1.1 million for a Port Angeles Waterfront Center project, $840,000 for William Shore Memorial Pool in Port Angeles, and $712,000 for rehabilitating Fort Worden’s historic warehouses in Port Townsend.

“We got a lot of good projects for the 24th, for the North Olympic Peninsula,” Rep. Mike Chapman, a Democrat from Port Angeles, said last week.

“It helps to have the chair of the capital budget committee representing our district,” Chapman added, referring to Democrat Steve Tharinger of Port Townsend.

The list of capital projects is at Select 24th Legislative District under “list” and click “report.”

The $7.2 million appropriation for the behavioral health center will go toward a medication-assisted, addiction treatment (MAT) facility that will be built in 2021. The total cost of the project is estimated at $20 million.

It’s on land in Sequim being purchased by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Simcosky said.

The tribe has signed a contract to purchase 20 acres for the facility, according to a press release.

“You talk to anyone now, and heroin is the big issue out there,” Simcosky said.

“We need to get a handle on it as quickly as we can.”

The MAT clinic “will follow a daily-dose model of care and wraparound services, including group counseling, child care, transportation and general support,” according to the capital budget application.

Phase 2 will consist of a 16-bed inpatient psychiatric facility that will be built beginning in 2021, Simcosky said.

Tharinger said a capital request for an additional $8 million for the mental health facility was requested but not approved as part of the joint application by the tribe and the two public hospitals for an Olympic Peninsula Behavioral Health Campus.

Tharinger said he expects the funding to be appropriated in a supplemental budget that will be passed in the next legislative session that begins in January 2020.

“It’s a big deal in my view,” Tharinger said May 3 of the facility.

“It’s a major piece of that mission for behavioral health treatment on the Peninsula.

“People who are now showing up in the ER or are picked up by the city [police] or county deputies and end up in jail and shouldn’t be there. They should be evaluated in a behavioral health facility.

“This provides that place for people to go.”

The tribe will be the lead developer and owner of the campus and will manage the MAT facility, which will support 300 adults annually and operate six days a week, according to a press release the tribe will issue this week.

The inpatient facility will serve more than 350 individuals annually with an anticipated average stay of 10-14 days.

Plans include a management agreement with Olympic Medical Center to operate the psychiatric facility and agreements with Jefferson Healthcare, Forks Community Hospital and Peninsula Behavioral Health “to provide a continuum of services,” according to the release.

Two crisis stabilization centers also are proposed for Port Townsend and Forks that would be voluntary-only and be staffed by social workers who would link individuals with support services.

“The Medication Assisted Treatment Facility and psychiatric facility are something our region desperately needs, as this level of care simply does not exist on the Olympic Peninsula right now,” Eric Lewis, Olympic Medical Center CEO, said in the press release.

Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn lauded the tribe for initiating the project.

“Increasing access to behavioral health services on the Olympic Peninsula is an excellent project for regional providers to work on,” Glenn said.

Democratic 24th District state Rep. Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim said the MAT facility is the first step in solving homelessness.

“Chemical dependence is part of that, mental illness is part of that,” he said.

“This can make a difference.

“The tribe gets a higher reimbursement rate through the feds, and that makes it work financially.”

The tribe will add the money needed to complete the project, Simcosky said.

Also headed to Inslee’s desk is a $52.4 billion biennial operating budget and a $9.8 billion biennial transportation budget.

Transportation funding for the 24th District focuses dollars on U.S. Highway 101.

For that main thoroughfare, the budget includes $1 million for a Morse Creek curve safety barrier, $1.3 million for east Sequim corridor improvements and $506,000 for improvements where 101 intersects with Lower Hoh Road.