King County to buy treatment center as mental health beds are on the decline
King County is in the final stages of purchasing a long term residential mental health treatment center in North Seattle.
Cascade Hall, a 64-bed facility, holds about a quarter of the county’s residential treatment beds. This purchase will not increase the county's bed capacity, however, it will preserve the current count which has been declining in recent years.
At a press conference Wednesday at Cascade Hall, King County Executive Dow Constantine said the county decided to buy the facility to make up for the loss of mental health treatment.
“Over the last four years, through a combination of funding and workforce challenges, our community has lost nearly a third of our residential treatment capacity," Constantine said. "Due to the loss of beds, we've had the time that it takes to get into treatment growing and growing.”
Right now, it takes 44 days for someone to ask for help, then get them treatment.
King County Councilmember Sarah Perry also attended the press conference. According to Perry, the county had 355 residential treatment beds in 2018. Currently, there are 264 beds.
Another facility is expected to close later this year. That would drop the number of treatment beds to 244.
"We are losing beds every day," Perry said. "While at the same time we're watching the actual need increase, exponentially, in these last three years with Covid."
Executive Constantine says losing Cascade Hall would place a huge strain on the system.
“Can you imagine reaching out because you urgently need behavioral health care and being told to wait a month and a half," Constantine said. "Clearly, that's not acceptable.”
Therefore, buying Cascade Hall will ensure wait times will not increase further.
Cascade Hall provides long-term residential mental health and substance abuse treatment. They also provide 24-hour care. Residents typically stay at this kind of facility for about 2–3 years. Residents are learning how to become more independent so they can transfer to a different lower level of care.
According to a news release, King County invested $4 million in MIDD Behavioral Health funds, and $6 million of funding from Washington State. King County will use this money to buy Cascade Hall. The final price tag has not been announced yet. It is expected to be around $9 million.