Three Companies Tackling Snohomish County Behavioral Health Shortage

A Snohomish County behavioral health shortage may leave a long-term impact. Currently, there are 23 beds available for in-patient psychiatric services. For a county of 745,913 people, this number alarming county officials and providers. Many patients in need of care are forced to leave the county.

The lack of beds is creating a battleground for three for-profit companies who are competing for market share in the county. The companies (US HealthVest, Fairfax Hospital and Cascade Behavioral Health) have proposed a combined additional 239 beds. The companies are vying for additional dollars set aside for mental health services through the Affordable Care Act:

  • US HealthVest has already been approved by the Washington State Department of Health for a $18.8m, 75-bed unit in Smokey Point and is looking to add an additional 50 beds at a cost of $3.28m.
  • Fairfax Hospital will be opening 30 beds at the Providence Regional Medical Center Everett later this summer and has asked for permission to open another 34 beds at Valley General in Monroe at a cost of $2.2m.
  • Cascade Behavioral Health is looking for state approval to open a $24.5million, 80-bed unit in Bothell.

It is anticipated that these units, once open, will draw patients from all over the state – not just Snohomish County.

Jim Bloss, representative from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, expressed concern that as the battle wages between companies, people who badly need care are forced to go without. “In effect, our people who need the help are being held hostage while the players are fighting over turf.”

A public hearing on the US HealthVest and Fairfax proposals was held June 30 in Lynnwood. Additional decisions are anticipated to be announced later this summer.