With more people than ever seeking mental health support, Valley Cities Behavioral Health Care has expanded further by opening new offices in Federal Way.
City and Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce dignitaries gathered at the new location Wednesday to celebrate with Valley Cities staff and supporters at the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the mental health provider’s most recent expansion.
“The demand for the clinical services just keeps growing and growing,” Valley Cities CEO Ken Taylor said.
With more people coming to Valley Cities’ different locations to receive help, Valley Cities decided to move all its administrative services into one location in Federal Way, thus freeing up space at its other facilities to accommodate patient needs.
Taylor said although the company’s first hope was to move its administrative staff into the Valley Cities Federal Way clinical site, that would have required, at least, a $500,000 remodel, which was too cost prohibitive, so Valley Cities administrators and the board opted to sublet the offices on Eighth Avenue South.
“Any time we can get technology and administrative groups out and over here, that takes the pressure off at our other locations,” he said.
The extra space at those locations, he said, will be used for treatment groups and therapists.
Taylor said the adage, “If you build it, they will come,” has certainly proven true in this region, adding South King County has been traditionally underserved by mental health professionals.
“It’s just astounding — it’s just amazing, the level of growth we’ve experienced in the last five years,” Taylor said, adding that all Valley Cities locations have experienced more demand.
With more demand also created more need for mental health professionals to serve patients, and Taylor said, despite hiring more staff last year, 50 positions were left unfilled.
Valley Cities offers a range of services to clients, from psychiatric evaluations and medication management to counseling and substance abuse treatment services. Most of the clients requiring help do not have private insurance, and many are on Medicare and Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act, Taylor said, really drove the increase in demand for mental health services making treatment more accessible to everyone.
Not only does Valley Cities help people who are traditionally under-served, Taylor said when people come into any of the Valley Cities locations, they receive one-on-one help by a care coordinator, who creates a team of staff to serve their various needs. As well, Valley Cities does not require referrals from other medical professionals for a person to receive help.
“That’s part of what has made us so successful,” Taylor said. “We’ve worked really hard to eliminate as many barriers as possible.”
He said, currently, Valley Cities has not only increased mental health services in South King County by opening in a number of locations, it has also improved access to mental health by eliminating waiting times in all areas but one — substance abuse treatment. Taylor said so many people require substance abuse-treatment services that Valley Cities has not been able to employ enough staff to keep up with demand, something the company is working very hard to change.
He said the company is also committed to providing as much help to patients as needed. Valley Cities has a housing program for people without homes, a veterans program for military families and an employment program that aims at helping clients find work that offers a viable living wage.
“So it’s a lot more than just mental health services,” Taylor said.
In addition to expanding by providing more facilities, he said Valley Cities has begun to partner with other health care providers so full coverage medical care can be offered at each of its sites. The goal, Taylor said, is for patients to receive not only mental health care, but all medical care, at Valley Cities locations, thus improving access further.
“We’re working really, really hard to be as collaborative as we possibly can,” he said.