Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital accepting adolescent patients

The facility is the first mental heallth unit in the county to offer in-patient services for children.

SMOKEY POINT — Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital, which provides in-patient mental health services for adults, is now accepting adolescent patients.

It’s the first mental health unit in Snohomish County offering in-patient behavioral health services for children. It will be able to treat up to 28 children, 12 to 17.

There’s long been a need for local in-patient mental health services for adolescents, said Lisa Utter, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Snohomish County.

Until now, Snohomish County parents sometimes had to search statewide to find mental health services for their children.

“Clearly it will be useful to have those services here in the county,” she said.

The Smokey Point adolescent mental health unit is opening slowly, beginning with four patients. It hopes to expand to treating six to eight children in the coming weeks, said Matt Crockett, the hospital’s chief executive officer.

Families can call the hospital day or night for free guidance on whether their child needs to be hospitalized for symptoms such as thoughts of suicide or aggressive behavior toward a family member, said Larisa Klein, a vice president with US HealthVest, which owns and operates the behavioral health hospital.

The phone number for free adolescent evaluations is 844-202-5555.

If parents see concerning text messages or posts on social media from their child, “that’s the time to act and get help right away,” she said.

Youth receiving inpatient behavioral health services generally are hospitalized five to 14 days.

They participate in group sessions and meet with their psychiatrist daily. At least one session with the child’s family is scheduled. Teachers are on staff to help students keep up with their homework.

A child with a mental health problem often puts the whole family into crisis, Klein said.

“This is an opportunity to intervene, provide some guidance, structure, and support so at the end of a week or two you’re bringing the stability back into the family,” she said.

The behavioral health hospital also plans to begin offering outpatient services for youths in January.

The mental health hospital accepts commercial health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare for members of the military, Klein said.

The behavioral hospital is the largest facility of its kind in Snohomish County. It opened in June after years of planning. It will eventually be able to treat 115 inpatients.

It currently is treating about 40 adult inpatients, said Richard Kresh, president and chief executive of US HealthVest.

There’s such high demand for mental health services that the hospital sometimes has to turn away patients.

Patients have been treated there from outside the county, including Pierce and Whatcom counties.

An adult outpatient program has begun to help patients make the transition from being hospitalized to living on their own at home, Kresh said.

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

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