Teaming up for mental health care: Health care agencies eye joint state funding request

Allison Arthur aarthur@ptleader.com
Posted 1/3/17

Jefferson Healthcare and Discovery Behavioral Healthcare are eyeing state funding to build an outpatient mental-health facility that could have transitional housing in the same building.

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Teaming up for mental health care: Health care agencies eye joint state funding request

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Jefferson Healthcare and Discovery Behavioral Healthcare are eyeing state funding to build an outpatient mental-health facility that could have transitional housing in the same building.

Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn debuted the idea at a Dec. 21 meeting of Jefferson Healthcare commissioners.

“We’re going to develop and submit a proposal for a facility that has outpatient mental health services on the ground floor and on the second and third floor, transitional housing,” Glenn said.

The goal of transitional housing is to help a person move from one housing situation to another, often from homelessness to more permanent housing.

Glenn told commissioners that he and Adam Marquis, executive director of Discovery Behavioral Healthcare – previously known as Jefferson Mental Health Services – are watching Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed budget to see what money might be available for such an innovative project.

Glenn recalled that there had been money set aside to built inpatient psychiatric facilities last year in rural areas. Jefferson Healthcare applied for, and was awarded, $1.5 million for a seven-bed facility, but ended up returning the grant money, essentially rejecting it, because funding to maintain such an inpatient facility was insufficient.

Jefferson Healthcare wasn’t the only agency to turn down the funding, Glenn said.

Glenn said state officials have learned that one-third of the patients living in state facilities are there because other kinds of housing are not available in the communities where they want to live. The lack of inpatient beds has been a problem for the state.

“What the governor’s office concluded is that there would be many beds available [at state facilities] if those people had a place to go that was transitional. And it’s far less expensive,” Glenn said.

So the new idea being touted is to create transitional housing such as rooms close to where the person is being treated. Unlike an inpatient facility, an outpatient facility would not need to be built to hospital standards. And the housing side of the project would not need to be licensed.

“We’ve seen preliminary language that they are going to stretch the definition of the types of projects that are eligible for funding,” Glenn said.

Further quizzed by commissioners, Glenn acknowledged that local officials might think big and go for a $3 million-$5 million grant.

“The movers and shakers in Olympia are all committed to freeing up resources for behavioral health, and I think we have a good story to tell up here,” Glenn said.

Glenn noted that Dove House Advocacy Services, which helps victims of domestic violence, has living quarters above its facility, which is next door to Jefferson Healthcare’s campus off Sheridan Street. Dove House also operates an emergency shelter separately.

And Discovery Behavioral Healthcare also rents apartments and in emergency situations, uses hotel rooms to accommodate people in need.

Dr. Joe Mattern, chief medical officer at Jefferson Healthcare, said that some patients present to the hospital with “complicated psychiatric” needs.

“It’s not uncommon that we have patients that we can’t discharge to a car,” Mattern said, adding that housing makes a difference.

“It’s not a real surprise that when people have a safe bed and a place to eat, they don’t come to the emergency department,” Mattern said.

Marquis of Discovery Behavioral Healthcare could not be reached for comment by deadline.

DENTAL CARE

In addition to building an outpatient facility, Glenn also told commissioners that hospital officials throughout the state are talking about advocating for what he called cost-based reimbursable dental services in rural health clinics.

Currently, Jefferson County ranks 39th out of 39 counties regarding adults on Medicaid who have not accessed dental care. That’s partly because of low reimbursements that preclude most dentists in Jefferson County from accepting patients who have Medicaid.

In 2016, The Leader found only two dentists in the county who accepted a limited number of Medicaid patients.

Glenn said Jefferson Healthcare is advocating for a pilot project in Jefferson County that could be in effect as soon as January 2018.

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