Design rendering of the planned 16-bed mental health treatment center north of Stanwood. (Washington State Health Care Authority)

Design rendering of the planned 16-bed mental health treatment center north of Stanwood. (Washington State Health Care Authority)

Neighbors air concerns on proposed psychiatric center near Stanwood

A forum offered the community a first look at what the facility for involuntary mental health treatment may look like.

STANWOOD — Officials fielded more than 40 questions about a psychiatric facility proposed near Stanwood at an online town hall meeting Tuesday evening.

The 16-bed facility at 300th Street NW and 80th Avenue NW would provide long-term involuntary mental health treatment for adults.

The state Health Care Authority hosted the meeting, which lasted nearly two hours. Members of the public submitted written questions.

There are just six licensed beds for patients with 90- or 180-day orders in Snohomish County, officials said. The Stanwood project would add 16 more beds, with the potential for a second 16-bed facility if funding is available.

The project is part of a state initiative to move patients from large state hospitals into smaller facilities within their communities.

“We find people do better when they stay connected to friends, family and homes,” said Kara Panek, with the state Health Care Authority.

An official read aloud a comment of support from a Snohomish County resident, a family member of a person with mental illness for over 20 years. “A safe secure facility close to home would have made all the difference in their care,” the person wrote. “Snohomish County needs more psychiatric beds, including those for 90 to 180 day stays.”

But some neighbors have objected to the proposed location, citing concerns about safety, traffic and change to the neighborhood’s rural character.

Keri Waterland, director of the Health Care Authority’s behavioral health and recovery division, said the facility will be locked and staff will be trained to handle aggressive behavior.

There will be no armed guards. Staff will use medications and physical restraints to de-escalate patients.

Patient escapes are rare, said Brian Waiblinger, chief medical officer for the state Department of Social and Health Services. If an escape did happen, a patient would likely try to leave the area and get away from people, he said.

Design rendering of the planned 16-bed mental health treatment center north of Stanwood. (Washington State Health Care Authority)

Design rendering of the planned 16-bed mental health treatment center north of Stanwood. (Washington State Health Care Authority)

The facility will not serve people in the criminal justice system, officials noted.

“It’s much more likely that one of our clients would be the victim of violence than perpetuating violence,” Waiblinger said.

The proposed treatment center proposed is the result of a 2020 settlement between the Tulalip Tribes and the state. Under a compact with the state, the tribes are able to retain millions of dollars of sales tax revenue generated from business on the reservation. In exchange, they agreed to spend $35 million on an up-to-48-bed civil commitment center off the Tulalip Indian Reservation.

Several people submitted questions on how the site was selected.

Keith Banes, with the Wenaha Group, represented the tribes at the meeting. Banes said the tribes considered sites in Arlington and Monroe, but chose the Stanwood location for two reasons: the facility could be sited with a conditional use permit, and the tribes already owned the land.

No other sites are under consideration, he said.

The tribes will build the facility and turn over ownership to the state. From there, the state will procure a behavioral health services provider to operate it.

Some questioned why the public was not notified sooner.

Banes said the tribes followed the county’s process for public notification for land-use applications.

Architect Jim Wolch said the facility’s design has a “residential character” with the goal to create a “home-like environment” for patients.

Traffic impacts from a 16-bed center will be “minimal,” said Evan Haines, the project’s contractor. Most traffic will be from the projected 35 employees and the arrival and pick-up of patients. That will occur at scheduled times.

An 8-foot-wide shoulder will be constructed on 300th Street NW, he said.

Wolch said the the project is expected to generate less traffic than a medical office building.

The county hearing examiner will decide whether to approve the conditional use permit. That hearing is expected to take place in late summer or early fall, he said.

If it goes through, the facility could begin operations in 2024, he said.

A recording of the town hall meeting will be available online later this week.

For more information, visit hca.wa.gov/about-hca/behavioral-health-recovery/proposed-community-based-residential-treatment-facility.

For questions, email snohomishrtf@hca.wa.gov

Jacqueline Allison: 425-339-3434; jacqueline.allison@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @jacq_allison.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arlington
Arlington woman dies in crash on Highway 530

The Washington State Patrol says a Stanwood man ran a red light, striking Zoey Ensey as she turned onto the highway.

FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as "a random event" that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File)
Monkeypox case count rises to 6 in Snohomish County

Meanwhile, cases in the state have roughly doubled every week. Most of those have been in neighboring King County.

Farmer Frog employees sort through a pallet of lettuce at their new location on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At Farmer Frog’s new pad, nonprofit helps feed 1.5M Washingtonians

The emergency food distribution network began amid the pandemic. Demand was high — so high, the truck volume led them to move.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Snohomish County, cities announce $9.6M for mental health, shelter

Projects span from Edmonds to Sultan. Each city is using American Rescue Plan Act money, with the county contributing, too.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Suspect in custody after man’s gunshot death, standoff

Deputies responded to a domestic violence call and found the suspect barricaded on the property near Snohomish.

Two students walk along a path through campus Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. The college’s youth-reengagement program has lost its funding, and around 150 students are now without the money they need to attend classes. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Monroe nixes college program, leaving 150-plus students in the lurch

For years, the Monroe School District footed the bill for “U3” students, who have gotten mixed messages about why that’s ending.

Desiree Gott looks over documents before her sentencing Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Driver gets over 2 years in death of motorcyclist in Everett

In May, Desiree Gott was turning into the BECU on Evergreen Way when she crashed into Matthew Japhet, 34. She had taken meth.

A frame from video taken by a nearby security camera shows a Bothell police officer (right) shooting a man who allegedly charged him with a knife. (Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team) 20210128
Prosecutor declines charges in fatal Bothell police shooting

An officer shot Juan Rene Hummel, 25, five times in 2020, when Hummel charged at the officer with a knife in his hand.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Man dead in shooting near Startup antique store

The man in his 30s was shot before noon Saturday. A man in his early 20s was in custody.

Most Read