With access to mental health services a topic of great interest to the Washington State health care community, WSHA members have responded by increasing access to services in their facilities. On May 24, Swedish Ballard opened a new 22-bed behavioral health clinic that accepts voluntary and involuntary patients ages 18 and older.
“This new behavioral health unit was a collaborative effort– Swedish, the Washington State Hospital Association and other member hospitals started a joint conversation about improving psychiatric care for patients who are currently boarding in emergency departments and medical-surgical units,“ said Arpan Waghray, M.D., system medical director for Behavioral Health, Swedish Health Services. “It quickly became evident there was a critical shortage of regional acute care beds to serve patients with both psychiatric and medical needs in a community hospital setting.”
Once Swedish identified the need for mental health services, it continued to work with community mental health partners to bring the unit online. The space was designed to better coordinate care for those suffering from two chronic illnesses simultaneously, which improves medical and behavioral health outcomes and reduces the cost of care by helping patients avoid readmission to the hospital.
The new unit was also designed to have a non-institutional feel to create a culture of recovery, mindfulness, respect and safety, with bright pastel colors and plenty of natural light. Swedish also partnered with Sound Mental Health to ensure seamless care following patient discharge.
As we near the end of Mental Health Month, we want to recognize all the hospitals and health systems in the state that are expanding access to mental health services. Improving access is critical, and WSHA members are responding to the need.