Washington State’s mental health care system is not meeting all the needs of our growing communities. Several bills being introduced this week could help make more services available. HB 1546 and SB 5434 (companion bills) would allow general-acute care and freestanding psychiatric community hospitals to voluntarily provide long-term, court-ordered mental health services, allowing patients to get care closer to home where there is more support from friends and family. Currently, patients are transfered to the state hospitals or are waitlisted to go those facilities.
HB 1547 and SB 5446 (companion bills) would renew provisions that allow hospitals in certain conditions to be exempt from our state’s Certificate of Need (CN) processes when adding new psychiatric beds, allowing hospitals that want to expand services to do so more quickly and efficiently. Both issues had hearings before lawmakers in Olympia this week. Click here to read the latest legislative updates in Inside Olympia. (Chelene Whiteaker)