Critics of an inpatient mental hospital proposed in Lacey’s downtown saw their hopes raised a notch this week. The state Department of Health said it is reviewing terms under which the US HealthVest facility might operate.
DOH previously gave the go-ahead to US HealthVest’s 75-bed inpatient facility in Lacey’s Woodland Square. But it turns out that US HealthVest officials told state regulators they would allow involuntarily committed patients, and a conditional-use permit approved by the Lacey City Council does not allow that.
This conflict has prompted a formal review by the Department of Health to see what kinds of patients the US HealthVest facility, known as the South Sound Behavioral Health Hospital, will treat if it opens as planned in 2018. DOH assumed all patients would be accepted.
The apparent conflict between the state and city permits came up as DOH was reviewing US HealthVest’s second proposal — to add 40 beds to its facility.
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Though the new questions from DOH may not scuttle the entire US HealthVest project, the review gives Providence St. Peter Hospital and its partner Fairfax Behavioral Health more ammunition with which to fight the certificate of need already granted by DOH for HealthVest’s 75-bed facility.
Providence is also challenging DOH’s decision to reject the St. Peter-Fairfax hospital proposal for the rural northeast area of Lacey, where different city conditions might be imposed on the operation.
Providence presently runs a small 18-bed inpatient clinic in Thurston County that would merge into its new facility, if DOH would change course and certify there is need for it.
Certainly time is on US HealthVest’s side. The New York company was first in line to propose a solution to Thurston County’s drastic shortage of psychiatric treatment beds.
As we noted in an editorial back in July, the state Department of Health says Thurston County needs another 51 adult beds and 10 child or adolescent beds in the short term — and 80 beds by 2030. That is in addition to current Providence beds. The beds shortage results in long drives and out-of-state trips for families with loved ones needing critical short-term care.
Either US HealthVest or Providence could provide these needed services in our community. Our interest is not in which hospital chain provides the new facility so much as that the care provided is truly good — and timely.
Providence, Fairfax and the DOH need to make sure this process is not simply dragged out as a way to torpedo US HealthVest’s project. These services are needed in Thurston County.