Washington will officially take over a closed Tukwila psychiatric hospital on Tuesday after spending nearly $30 million to acquire the property.
The Cascade Behavioral Health Hospital purchase is expected to add 100 new beds for patients who are committed to state hospitals. Officials said this should free up beds for people in jail awaiting competency services.
Cascade was one of the largest privately-owned behavioral health facilities in the state before abruptly closing in July.
“The closure of this hospital was tough news, but it also presented us with a sudden and unexpected opportunity,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement last week.
“We have been working diligently to serve rapidly growing numbers of patients needing behavioral health care, but one of our biggest constraints is the amount of time it takes to build and staff new facilities,” Inslee added. “We will work as quickly as we can to prepare the hospital to serve patients.”
The first beds will go to 20 “civil conversion” patients from Western State Hospital — people with criminal charges who were moved to the civil side of the legal system due to serious disabilities, The Seattle Times reported.
A federal judge recently ordered the state to move or discharge civil conversion patients at Western State to make space for defendants who are potentially incompetent to stand trial and waiting in jail for evaluation or mental health care.
Demand for inpatient evaluations and “competency restoration services” has increased by roughly 145% over the last nine fiscal years, according to Inslee’s office.
The state has responded by opening eight facilities since 2016, equivalent to about 278 beds. Seven of those facilities have stayed open.
The state Department of Social and Health Services plans to open several more new facilities. This includes one near Rochester for people found not guilty by reason of insanity that is scheduled to open in fall. Aside from the Tukwila hospital, the state hopes to add over 600 beds for behavioral health patients in future years..