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Not 1, but 2 mental health hospitals are coming to Lacey

Providence St. Peter Hospital has reached a three-party agreement with the state Deparment of Health and US HealthVest to move forward with its own mental health hospital plan. US HealthVest will do the same. Both hospitals are proposed for Lacey. Providence St. Peter Hospital photographed on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017.
Providence St. Peter Hospital has reached a three-party agreement with the state Deparment of Health and US HealthVest to move forward with its own mental health hospital plan. US HealthVest will do the same. Both hospitals are proposed for Lacey. Providence St. Peter Hospital photographed on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

The standoff between two groups that each wanted to bring a mental health hospital to Thurston County has been settled after Providence St. Peter Hospital, the state Department of Health and US HealthVest announced a new agreement late Thursday.

The agreement paves the way for both US HealthVest and Providence St. Peter Hospital to pursue their plans for mental health hospitals in Lacey.

US HealthVest will begin work on South Sound Behavioral Hospital, a 108-bed facility that will occupy an existing office building on Lacey’s Woodland Square Loop.

Providence and its partner, Fairfax Behavioral Health, plan to bring an 85-bed hospital called Olympia Behavioral Health to northeast Lacey. The Providence and Fairfax project, which still needs a conditional use permit from the city of Lacey, is set to open mid-2019 at 7434 Betti Lane NE.

“This settlement agreement represents a pivotal milestone, reaching consensus about how best to address the unmet needs of patients and families in our community who need mental health care,” said Medrice Coluccio, chief executive for Providence in Southwest Washington, in a statement.

Key to Thursday’s announcement is that Providence will no longer appeal the state’s decision to award a certificate of need — something that is required when a new hospital is proposed — to US HealthVest for its hospital. Providence and its partner had exhausted the state’s administrative appeals process. The next step would have been to appeal the decision to Thurston County Superior Court.

Lacey already has approved a conditional use permit for the US HealthVest project.

“We are ready to begin work on the building almost immediately,” said US HealthVest President and Chief Executive Richard Kresch on Thursday. South Sound Behavioral Hospital could open as early as next spring.

“We are eager to do what we would have liked to have done a year ago or so,” he said.

Kresch credited Gov. Jay Inslee — who he said was a keynote speaker at a ribbon cutting for HealthVest’s Smokey Point facility in northern Snohomish County earlier this year — in helping bring the parties together.

Kresch said the governor was aware of the “standoff” in Lacey, and was eager to facilitate, recognizing the state was in need of more mental health services. Kresch said the Attorney General’s Office also helped.

Providence spokesman Chris Thomas acknowledged that a representative from the AG’s office was involved, and that the Governor’s office was supportive of addressing mental health needs. The state Department of Health could not be reached Thursday.

Providence and its partner, and US HealthVest, also have agreed to terms regarding patients needing involuntary treatment at the hospitals.

Thomas said at least 20 percent of inpatient admissions at the two hospitals will be involuntary patients.

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