Providence St. Peter Hospital executives saw the light last week. The nonprofit company agreed to drop any legal challenge to a psychiatric hospital proposed in Lacey by an out-of-state company.
Providence has wanted to build its own larger facility to replace one it already operates. And as part of the agreements announced last week, the state Department of Health is granting a certificate of need for Providence and its partner Fairfax Behavioral Health for the second facility.
The best news is that New York-based US HealthVest can get to work right away to open its hospital in Lacey’s Woodland Square in a few months. Dr. Richard Kresch, chief executive for US HealthVest, said the inpatient psychiatric facility could open as soon as spring.
A lawsuit by Providence to block the US HealthVest facility could have left our South Sound community waiting at least another year without adequate beds for the hundreds of mentally ill patients who seek inpatient care in other communities or states. HealthVest plans to open a 75-bed facility that can be expanded to more than 100 beds.
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Providence already operates an 18-bed hospital but wants to replace it with an 85-bed hospital in northeast Lacey on Betti Lane NE. The Catholic health-care company needs approval of a conditional use permit by the city of Lacey. The City Council approved such a permit for the US HealthVest project a few months ago.
Our view all along has been that South Sound needs one new inpatient psychiatric hospital immediately — if not two — and that Providence should not put the US HealthVest hospital in jeopardy by prolonging its fight.
Kresch warned recently that his firm might not move ahead if Providence kept up its fight.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s office helped bring the DOH and other parties together. The office of state Attorney General Bob Ferguson was also involved, according to Kresch and a Providence spokesman.
Inslee has been advocating more community access to mental health services statewide so his involvement is not a great surprise. But the governor’s aides and the AG’s Office deserve thanks from our South Sound community for stepping in and helping all the parties find a solution that benefits the region.
US HealthVest must now move ahead without delay.