State turns unexpected hospital closure into opportunity to address urgent behavioral health needs

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Washington state will lease and purchase the former Cascade Behavioral Health Facility. The facility will add about 100 beds to the state's behavioral health system.

As part of an urgent effort to serve the increasing numbers of people waiting for behavioral health services, including those in jail awaiting competency services, the Department of Social and Health Services finalized an agreement to lease and purchase the former Cascade Behavioral Health facility in Tukwila.

The purchase of the vacant behavioral health hospital for $29.9 million will add about 100 beds. The department will take a phased approach of making the beds available to patients. The facility operated as a privately-owned psychiatric hospital until it was shuttered last month.

“The closure of this hospital was tough news, but it also presented us with a sudden and unexpected opportunity,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. 
“We have been working diligently to serve rapidly growing numbers of patients needing behavioral health care, but one of our biggest constraints is the amount of time it takes to build and staff new facilities. 
"I appreciate the work of the department to act quickly so the state could prepare a competitive bid. We will move as quickly as we can to prepare the hospital to serve patients.”

Over the past nine fiscal years, requests for DSHS to provide inpatient evaluations and competency restoration services have increased by roughly 145 %. These large and unpredicted increases in the number of county criminal court orders have exceeded the large number of beds already added to the forensic system. 

The Legislature approved his request-legislation which initiates several reforms to improve access to care, provide more options for services and diversion outside the court system, and improve efficiency.

Multiple new facilities are currently in the process of being developed and opened. DSHS is creating a new facility for people found not guilty by reason of insanity, which is scheduled to open later this fall at the Maple Lane campus near Rochester.


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