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Cascade Marks Completion of New Mental Health Facility

The Chronicle - 3/1/2018

Feb. 27--Lewis County residents who need mental health treatment will no longer have to leave the area to get inpatient care, Cascade officials said Monday at a ceremony marking the completion of a new facility at the Port of Centralia.

The Cascade Evaluation and Treatment Center is set to open in mid- to late-April, a 22-bed facility that will serve both those undergoing court-mandated treatment and those simply seeking care.

"It was really important that our Lewis County residents are not sent to Western State Hospital, that they have some place they can come here," said Cascade Chief Executive Officer Richard Stride. "You can imagine, it's very traumatic to be sent to one of these facilities anyway, but more traumatic when you have to take an ambulance all the way up to Lakewood or all the way down to Vancouver or clear over the mountain to Yakima. We need to keep our Lewis County residents here where their family is -- natural support."

Cascade broke ground on the $8.5 million, 23,000-square-foot building in May 2017, and Monday's ribbon cutting marked an on-schedule completion. It will open once the company completes its staff training and orientation.

A substantial portion of the project's funding, $3 million, was allocated by the Legislature in capital budget funds. The remaining $5.5 million came from a bond with the Washington Healthcare Facilities Authority.

Sixteen of the Center's 22 beds will be in a locked, inpatient unit. The remaining six will comprise the shorter-term crisis stabilization unit, where patients can admit themselves voluntarily.

"Oftentimes the biggest mental health facility in the county is the jail," said Ron Averill, a member of Cascade's board and a former Lewis County commissioner. "They get in trouble, and you have no choice, you didn't have anywhere to place them to stabilize them. You had to put them in jail. This was stupid on a mental health basis."

Law enforcement officials said the new mental health center will help alleviate that problem.

"We can better identify and process these mental health patients pre-booking before they actually get booked into our jail, and maybe we can actually divert them into this facility instead of serving time," said Lewis County Corrections Bureau Chief Chris Sweet. "We can identify those patients and inmates that would probably deteriorate in a county jail system, where we can put them into a facility here to give them the proper 24-hour treatment that they need." Sweet is also a member of Cascade's board.

Sweet's counterpart on the board, Lewis County Chief Deputy Bruce Kimsey, echoed that sentiment.

"It's a facility that's been desperately needed for years," he said. "Over the years, if we had a situation where we needed to take someone for treatment like this, we had to go all the way up to Thurston County, and a lot of times you couldn't get a bed or couldn't get any assistance whatsoever. This gives us more opportunity to help others, especially in desperate need of mental health."

The project's backers said its benefits will go beyond closer access to treatment.

The center will employ a staff of 45, Stride said, pointing to a job fair a month ago as part of Cascade's efforts to find employees locally. Sixty people showed up to the job fair.

"The majority of the jobs (at the center) are for people who have a high school diploma, maybe an (associates's degree), something like that, but they want to be in behavioral health," Stride said. "It's important that we have jobs for the high school students that are graduating here. We have good jobs for them to stay here in Lewis County."

----Editor's Note: The final quote in this article has been corrected since initial publication.


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