Commentary: Residents invited to support solutions addressing complexities of mental health crisis in South Snohomish County

In counties across Washington, mental health needs have surged. South Snohomish County is no different.

Since the start of the pandemic, officials have been underscoring the grave impacts that it would have on our collective mental wellness – especially for vulnerable populations – but the truth is, there was a budding crisis well before March 2020.

Through my roles with community behavioral health provider Compass Health and the Rotary Club of Lynnwood, I’ve heard the concerns of residents as well as business and city leaders regarding the growing mental health issues that our community is facing.

We’re in need of solutions, and Compass Health is delivering one.

Compass Health, Northwest Washington’s behavioral health care leader, is building a 72,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility – the second phase of its Broadway Campus Redevelopment – to meet the intensive mental health needs of our region’s most vulnerable populations.

As a community behavioral health organization, Compass Health serves low-income adults, youth and families. For those who may be facing mental health issues while also experiencing unemployment, poverty, or homelessness, the organization represents a lifeline to overcoming those challenges and pursuing hope and recovery.

This new facility will be purpose-built for those with intensive behavioral health needs: adults experiencing a mental health crisis, for example, or those whose treatment may require multiple touchpoints each week for therapy, medication management and other care that helps people remain housed and employed and prevents crises from occurring.

Compass Health’s intensive programs are already a lifeline for residents in Lynnwood and other South County communities. Many are referred through the organization’s Community Transitions partnerships with the Lynnwood Police Department, South County Fire and Rescue and other first responder agencies; relationships with local emergency departments; outpatient services; and other bridges to care.

While these clients may currently receive treatment at Compass Health’s Bailey Building in Everett, the facility was built decades ago as a nursing home and has outlived its ability to keep pace with our communities’ needs.

In contrast, the Broadway Campus Redevelopment, which will replace the current Bailey Building site, represents a paradigm shift in intentional design for behavioral health. It has the power to transform how we respond to some of the most pressing and visible challenges in our community.

For individuals with intensive mental health needs, this facility will support recovery, hope and dignity through a purpose-built environment. For local hospitals, first responders and law enforcement agencies, it will help alleviate demand for 9-1-1 response and emergency department or inpatient stays, which are historically higher among this population. The crisis triage center specifically will enable law enforcement to bring individuals in crisis directly to the center for immediate care – completing a streamlined drop-off process that supports client experience and frees up first responders to serve others in the community.

And at a time when the workforce shortage continues to exceed crisis levels in healthcare, this facility will help create a magnet for mental health professionals with a workplace that attracts the team members needed to meet our region’s growing demand for care.

Once complete, Compass Health anticipates the facility will serve an estimated 1,500 individuals through more than 30,000 points of service each year. Importantly, this care will be offered in a location that enables clients to remain in the community during treatment, allowing for family visits, care coordination, and a more seamless transition to other services when individuals are ready for less-intensive services.

Our community is in desperate need of a modern facility that supports evidence-based solutions to stabilize intensive mental health needs while reflecting the dignity of clients and professionals and easing reliance on emergency services. This is where we, as members of the South County community, can make a difference.

Compass Health recently launched It’s Time: The Campaign for Compass Health, a $14 million capital campaign to fund this state-of-the-art facility. This campaign presents a one-of-a-kind opportunity to be a part of the solution to address escalating mental health needs in South Snohomish County.

So far, the campaign has raised more $10 million thanks to lead funders including the Sunderland Foundation, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, The Norcliffe Foundation, Premera Blue Cross, the Martyn Family Foundation, the Cronin Family Foundation, and several significant corporate, individual, and family gifts. State leaders also have contributed more than $20 million toward the $64 million total project cost.

To raise the $4 million in capital campaign funding that is crucial to cross the finish line, Compass Health is inviting community members to invest in the future of behavioral health care in our communities by donating to It’s Time.

By contributing to this campaign, we all have an opportunity to leave a legacy and to play an integral role in providing much-needed local resources to address the growing mental health needs across our county. I’m proud to champion this project – and be part of bringing this vital resource to South Snohomish County. To learn more or donate, please visit www.compasshealth.org/itstime/.

— By Jeff Patterson, Director of Campaigns and Major Gifts at Compass Health and President, Rotary Club of Lynnwood

 

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