Bid for new psychiatric hospital denied

The battle among providers to establish more in-patient psychiatric beds in Snohomish County is down to two players — at least for now.

The state Department of Health turned down a request by Cascade Behavioral Hospital to open a $24.5 million, 80-bed psychiatric hospital at the corner of 23rd Drive SE and 220th Street SE in the Canyon Park neighborhood of Bothell.

Cascade is a wholly owned subsidiary of Acadia Healthcare Company, a Tennessee company that operates a network of 46 behavioral health facilities in 21 states.

In its denial, the state said that Cascade’s proposal had shortcomings. Among other things, it proposed charity care at a level below regional averages, and the state questioned some of Cascade’s financial assumptions.

Cascade was one of three for-profit companies hoping to add psychiatric units in Snohomish County. It has 28 days to file an appeal. Michael Uradnik, chief executive of Cascade Behavioral Health, declined to comment.

There’s only one place currently offering adult, in-patient psychiatric services to serve the county’s 745,913 people: a 23-bed unit at Swedish/Edmonds hospital. Most people who need in-patient psychiatric care have to leave the county to get it.

Ken Stark, director of the Snohomish County Human Services Department, said he was surprised by the state’s decision to turn down Cascade’s proposed 80-bed unit. “We know the need is there,” but no one knows exactly how many more beds are needed, he said.

Despite the Department of Health’s veto of the Bothell facility, two other in-patient psychiatric units are still planned, for Monroe and Smokey Point, and a third is about to open. Fairfax Hospital of Kirkland is scheduled to open a 30-bed adult psychiatric unit at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

If the Monroe and Smokey Point proposals are approved, the total number of psychiatric beds in the county could increase to 212 over the next few years.

Fairfax is seeking permission to open a second unit, with 34 beds, at Valley General Hospital in Monroe at a cost of $2.2 million. It would provide services to adults with severe psychiatric and medical issues as well as to geriatric populations.

US HealthVest received state Department of Health approval in January to open an $18.8 million, 75-bed unit in Smokey Point, but that decision is being challenged by two competitors, Cascade and Fairfax. Hearings on the challenge are scheduled in October.

US HealthVest also is asking for state approval to add another 50 psychiatric beds at a proposed Smokey Point facility at an additional cost of $3.28 million.

The competition to open in-patient psychiatric services is spurred in part by additional money available for mental health services through the federal Affordable Care Act.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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