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News / Health / Clark County Health

Involuntary treatment center opens in Fruit Valley

Care to focus on mental health, substance disorders

By Mia Ryder-Marks, Columbian staff reporter
Published: June 2, 2023, 6:06am
6 Photos
Andrea Brooks, president and CEO of Lifeline Connections, left, speaks during an opening ceremony for their new involuntary treatment program as director of involuntary treatment Raven Mosley loos on at the Crisis Wellness Center on Thursday.
Andrea Brooks, president and CEO of Lifeline Connections, left, speaks during an opening ceremony for their new involuntary treatment program as director of involuntary treatment Raven Mosley loos on at the Crisis Wellness Center on Thursday. (ELAYNA YUSSEN for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Nearly 35 years ago, Clark County Sheriff John Horch was working as a deputy in Hazel Dell when he encountered a man, Paul, who kept having the police called on him.

Some calls were for crimes, but most were about Paul’s behavioral health issues. At the time, there was only one detox center in Clark County, and when officers took Paul there, to the hospital or booked him in jail — he’d usually be released within the day.

“For three or four years we were dealing with him. He had behavioral health issues and substance abuse issues. We had our temporary solutions, and no place to take him,” said Horch.

One day, Horch was called to the scene of a deceased person in an intersection. A man had thrown himself into the path of a car.

It was Paul.

“I remember walking up to him, recognizing him and thinking: ‘I wish we would have had a spot to take this person,’ ” Horch said.

But on Thursday, with a quick snip of a purple ribbon, Lifeline Connections unveiled its new Crisis Wellness Center involuntary treatment program for people in an acute mental health crisis or struggling with substance use disorders.

The facility is a first of its kind in Clark County and is designed to meet the swelling need in Clark County through 24/7 supportive care.

The new facility — six years in the making — at 5197 N.W. Lower River Road, will start accepting patients Tuesday.

“Our state has seen an increase in need, and we’ve not been able to sustain that need as quickly as we need to on a state level. But with the recent changes that Gov. (Jay) Inslee has made bringing individuals who suffer from acute mental health back in the community where they came from, (this) creates an opportunity for us to provide those services here at home,” said Raven Mosley, director for involuntary treatment at Lifeline Connections.

The center supports people who need either mental health or substance use services, or both, in one facility. Research suggests that around 1 in 4 people with a severe mental illness also struggle with substance dependency. With the new treatment center, clients in need will no longer need to be transported between mental health and detox facilities to address their needs.

“Lifeline Connections’ mission is to inspire hope and to support lifesaving changes for individuals who are affected by substance use and mental health conditions. We know that where there is hope and help, there is healing,” Mosley said.

The involuntary treatment program will serve individuals at the greatest risk of harm (to themselves or others) and with the highest need. The new facility is next to Lifeline Connections’ crisis triage and stabilization program, allowing the organization to transfer patients from the various buildings if needed.

After a patient’s stay at the facility, they can be transitioned to community-based services to promote recovery further, according to Andrea Brooks, president and CEO of Lifeline Connections.

Community leaders ranging from law enforcement, rescue, Homeless Assistance Response Team members, and health officials gathered along the manicured lawn at the facility’s opening ceremony before receiving a tour. The building offers 16 beds for short-term and long-term stays, quiet rooms, communal spaces, and a courtyard.

Funding for the new program comes from the Washington State Department of Commerce, Carelon Behavioral Health and Clark County Department of Community Services.

“This is a step forward for high-quality treatment for those in both the local community and across the entire state. Providing for an individual in crisis isn’t just about one aspect of their life or another. It’s about healing and recovering for the whole person,” said Zephyr Forest, Washington State Healthcare Authority coordinator.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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