Snohomish County to open new behavioral health facility

Artist’s rendering of the new North Sound Behavioral Health Treatment Facility.

Snohomish County has completed the North Sound Behavioral Health facility at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center in Everett. The facility will help the county address the local, regional and statewide challenges related to the opioid epidemic. It will have two units totaling 32 beds designed to serve adults struggling with behavioral health issues. One unit (16 beds) will focus on adults with a primary addiction to opioids. The other unit (16 beds) is designed to treat adults with addiction issues and mental health needs. The facility is run by Pioneer Human Services, a state licensed, well respected and experienced social service provider.

Most treatment services will be funded through the federal Medicaid system. Previously, individuals eligible for Medicaid funded treatment were forced to leave Snohomish County for care, often going to Eastern Washington for treatment, making it difficult for family engagement and education.

The renovation of the facility was funded by: an appropriation from the Washington State Legislature to the Washington State Department of Commerce ($11.37 million); North Sound Behavioral Health Organization ($3.34 million); and Snohomish County ($2.8 million) for a total budget of $17.51 million. The Denney Center will began accepting patients later this month.

“Our community needs the capacity to take care of those who are suffering from addiction and behavioral health issues,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “The new inpatient treatment facility fills a huge need in Snohomish County and will be instrumental in transforming lives and keeping our community safe. We appreciate the support from our state legislators, regional partners, and those who did the planning and reconstruction.”

“This state-of-the-art facility will give us another set of tools to address mental illness and addiction in our community,” said Snohomish County Council Chair Stephanie Wright, whose 3rd District includes Lynnwood and Edmonds. “We have never had adequate treatment space for all of the people who need help, and Denney will start the process of bringing more resources to bear on the challenges we face as a community. I’m grateful to our legislative delegation and the Washington state Department of Commerce for making this a priority for funding.”

“Repurposing unused space that was originally intended for incarcerating youth and converting it for dual diagnosis and substance abuse treatments is addressing a critical need in our county,” said Snohomish County Council Vice Chair Megan Dunn. “The COVID-19 pandemic increased substance abuse and mental health challenges across the county, and this new North Sound Behavioral Health facility will help bring healing to many who have been struggling.”

After identifying an urgent need for additional substance abuse and behavioral health treatment beds, Snohomish County started the North Sound Behavioral Health Treatment Center project in 2017. KMD Architects, working with Snohomish County, identified the Denney Juvenile Justice Center as one of two locations identified as potential sites, since large portions of the detention facility area of the building were vastly underutilized. The facility was built in the mid-1990s with a capacity of approximately 130 beds, but in recent years the total number of juveniles incarcerated at any given time has often dipped into the single digits as juvenile justice reforms focused on keeping kids out of detention. Denney was eventually chosen as the best location for the new treatment facility.

“I was a strong supporter of the Denney project in the legislature and will continue to look for ways to expand treatment beds right here in Snohomish County,” said Snohomish County Councilmember Jared Mead, whose 4th District represents Mountlake Terrace and Brier. “I appreciate all of the support my legislative colleagues and Governor Inslee gave to this project. The Denney project begins the process of building more treatment capacity for our residents who need it. But the need is still greater than there are facilities available.”

The Denney project has many stakeholders and partners, including Snohomish County Superior Court, Snohomish County Department of Facilities and Fleet, Snohomish County Human Services, North Sound Behavioral Health Organization, and Pioneer Human Services, which is operating in the new facility.

Funding was secured in 2018 for KMD to begin design on a two-story addition and remodel project. It would convert a portion of the detention pods into two 16-bed treatment facilities, one on each floor, with the addition utilized for administrative and patient support functions. The final design includes 20,403 square feet, of which 9,411 square feet is new and 10,992 square feet is remodel.

In 2019 and into early 2020, the designers completed most of their work, and the first bid packages were meant to be distributed in early March, right as the first wave of COVID-19 hit. The project team quickly transitioned from a traditional in-person bid opening to one done online utilizing Building Connected software with virtual bid openings on Zoom and MS Teams. Construction began on May 1st, 2020, with substantial completion in April 2021.

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