To create alternatives to hospitalization and arrest, the Whatcom County Triage Center opened in December 2006 for adults suffering from a crisis of mental health and/or addiction.
Adults experiencing a crisis due to mental illness or substance use disorder who need a safe, supportive setting to stabilize. All individuals seeking treatment are there voluntarily.
The North Sound Behavioral Health Organization covers the majority of operating costs. Medicaid and state dollars fund the services when insurance or other payers are unavailable.
As the only facility of this type in Whatcom County with just thirteen beds, the triage center needs more capacity. When beds are unavailable people needing treatment end up at the hospital, in jail, or back to the streets.
Funding is being sought to expand the current facility to 32 beds- sixteen for voluntary crisis triage and sixteen more for detox services. The increased space is expected to be about 12,000 square feet larger than the present facility.
Much of the funding will hopefully come from the Washington State Legislature’s capital budget; both the house and senate recognize the need for investment. Further funding will come from local and regional sources; the North Sound Behavioral Health Organization will provide $2.5 million and Whatcom County’s behavioral health fund may provide up to $3 million. In total, the project is expected to cost approximately $9 million, to include relocation costs of current services during construction.
Operations will be funded primarily with federal Medicaid dollars supplemented by State funds. Local behavioral health dollars (from sales tax) may contribute to costs that ensure seamless care and coordination upon discharge to the community.
Once funding is secured, the next step is to meet with the surrounding neighborhood and resolve any potential concerns. When neighborhood discussions are complete, a contract will be awarded and construction will begin.