A new 16-bed mental health evaluation and treatment facility in Federal Way will begin serving those in crisis this month.
The King County Department of Community & Human Services and Telecare hosted an open house at the new facility, 33480 13th Place S., Dec. 14.
Telecare, a family- and employee-owned behavioral health provider, will operate the facility, which will serve adults who are involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.
“One of the things we deal with on a daily basis is people who are in psychiatric crisis who need a place to go,” Jim Vollendroff, director of the King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division, said during the open house. “Often times, people end up on what we call single-bed certifications at hospital emergency rooms, which means they are in hospitals because we don’t have enough capacity within our system. With facilities like this bringing online this number of beds at this particular time, (it) will make a huge difference in the lives of the people we interface with on a daily basis.”
The new facility in Federal Way is one of eight evaluation and treatment centers in King County. King County put out a request for proposal for the new facility in 2014. While it is Telecare’s first in the county, the company operates facilities in Clark, Pierce, Snohomish and Thurston counties.
When law enforcement or health professionals deem a person to need involuntary treatment, they will be in-processed at the facility.
Within 72 hours, patients have a hearing in the Involuntary Treatment Act court to determine the next steps in their treatment plan. Patients also have a 14-day hearing and a 90-day hearing if they are still undergoing treatment.
The new facility is set up with teleconferencing capabilities so patients can appear in court without leaving the facility. There are also offices for defense attorneys to meet with clients on site.
The E&T center is designed to provide short-term care. If longterm care is needed, a patient will be placed on a list for treatment at another facility, such as Western State Hospital, said Tyvonne Berring, administrator for Telecare’s King County evaluation and treatment center. The average stay at the center will be 10 to 15 days.
During the treatment process, patients can switch to a voluntary commitment, Berring said.
Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell said the treatment facility is an important addition to the city.
“Years ago people used to whisper about mental illness,” he said during the open house. “It was either somebody had a problem in their family or they knew about somebody, either their co-worker or neighbor. I think it has been one of those things where there has been a great acknowledgment over the past generation that 20 percent of our population struggles with some degree of mental illness, and 4 percent of those individuals deal with that, with a chronic situation in which it becomes acute. It becomes an impediment to their regular life, to their employment.”