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Thursday, October 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sacred Heart will build 100-bed psychiatric hospital

Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital has received state approval to build a 100-bed psychiatric hospital in Spokane.

The hospital, expected to open next year, is a joint venture between Sacred Heart and Fairfax Behavioral Health, which operates inpatient psychiatric and chemical dependency facilities in Western Washington. It will serve patients ages 5 and older.

The state Department of Health chose Sacred Heart’s proposal over two other competing applications from out-of-state companies. Sacred Heart already operates an inpatient psychiatric facility in Spokane, with 48 adult beds and 24 pediatric beds.

A typical patient is someone experiencing an acute mental health episode, said Elizabeth DeRuyter, a Providence spokeswoman. An average stay is five to eight days, while the individual is stabilized and connected to outpatient services.

All three applications were strong, but state officials thought that Sacred Heart’s established ties in the local mental health community gave it an edge, said Bart Eggen, an executive director for the health department. In addition, Sacred Heart was the only applicant that would treat children younger than 12, he said. The hospital’s existing pediatric psychiatric beds are full 80 percent of the time.

When the new hospital opens, some of the psychiatric beds in Sacred Heart’s existing facility will be scaled back, for a net gain of 72 psych beds. The new beds will help address a statewide shortage of inpatient mental health services.

The other applicants were for-profit companies: Signature Healthcare Services of California and Springstone LLC of Kentucky.

All three applications cited the need for additional psychiatric beds in Spokane County and surrounding areas. According to state projections, the area will need 72 more psychiatric beds by 2030.

Medicare and Medicaid patients are expected to be a significant part of the new hospital’s clientele. Eight percent of Spokane County residents have a mental illness or serious emotional disturbance, Providence officials said. For single, homeless adults, that figure jumps to 20 to 25 percent.

The $37 million psychiatric hospital will be built on Sacred Heart’s existing campus, at the site of the Fifth and Browne Medical Building, which will be razed.

Washington is under court orders to improve treatment of the mentally ill. The state Supreme Court banned “psychiatric boarding” in 2014, where patients waited in emergency rooms for days until psychiatric beds became available. However, the shortage of beds statewide remains a problem.

The Department of Health recently approved construction of a 120-bed psychiatric hospital in Tacoma and a 72-bed psychiatric facility in Vancouver, Washington. Both will serve adults.

“When all these projects get built and open, they’ll help address the need,” Eggen said.

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