On July 19, the Washington State Department of Commerce announced $39 million in grants to health care providers to improve behavioral health care across the state. The grants were issued to 18 providers, including WSHA members Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital, Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Navos. Together, the grants will help create 341 additional beds, which will also provide safe places for people to stay after being discharged from Western or Eastern State Hospital.
This funding comes at a crucial time, as access to behavioral health care has become of paramount importance, affecting all residents in Washington State. This type of capital funding from the state has not always been the norm, only emerging in the last five years or so as WSHA has advocated strongly for increased funding and policies that would foster better access to services.
We firmly believe that enhanced and expanded behavioral health services, like those funded by these grants, are essential. We believe that patients will get better behavioral health care at facilities closer to their home, and closer to their support system of friends and family. We also believe access to services before or after a mental health crisis has been a major gap in our state’s behavioral health care continuum. Examples of these include supportive housing and partial hospitalization programs. These programs bring care to patients in housing or provide day-long outpatient treatment immediately following a crisis.
Behavioral health continues to be one of WSHA’s top legislative priorities as we head into the 2019 legislative session. There is much more to do to ensure our residents have access to the care they need, but these grants will make a true impact across our state, and we applaud our state’s leaders for committing to this support.
WSHA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs