New psychiatric care unit opens at EvergreenHealth Monroe

MONROE — Older adults will now have more access to inpatient psychiatric treatment in Snohomish County.

Fairfax Behavioral Health held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday for a 34-bed psychiatric care unit at EvergreenHealth Monroe.

It will treat adults age 55 and older who are having acute psychological or emotional behavioral health problems. Geriatric patients will be accepted on a voluntary and involuntary basis.

“This is a regional resource,” said Eric Jensen, chief executive at EvergreenHealth Monroe. “It’s a hospital within a hospital.”

Fairfax, which operates a 157-bed inpatient psychiatric hospital in Kirkland, spent millions to open the unit in Monroe.

For many years, Snohomish County has lacked access to inpatient psychiatric care. Patients faced long waiting lists for treatment because there aren’t enough hospitals equipped to care for them, Jensen said. That’s starting to turn around with the addition of psychiatric hospital beds.

In September, Fairfax doubled the number of beds in the county when it opened a $4 million, 30-bed adult psychiatric care unit at Providence Regional Medical Center’s Pacific Campus in Everett. Previously, there was only one hospital psychiatric unit, a 23-bed facility at Swedish/Edmonds hospital.

The extra beds will help alleviate the problem of psychiatric patients being kept in hospital and emergency rooms while waiting for care. The state Supreme Court has ruled that practice unconstitutional.

EvergreenHealth Monroe, formerly Valley General Hospital, changed its name earlier this year to reflect its partnership with Kirkland-based EvergreenHealth.

The 2012 alliance between the two tax-supported public hospital districts was finalized March 1.

EvergreenHealth Monroe spent $500,000 to help Fairfax open new double-occupancy rooms inside the hospital at 179th Ave SE and U.S. 2, Jensen said.

They are working together to provide inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @AmyNileReports

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