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Groundbreaking ceremony for new, historic Behavioral Health Teaching Facility

Today, a celebration was held for the groundbreaking of the new Behavioral Health Teaching Facility located at UW Medical Center–Northwest. The state legislature funded the construction of this historic project during the 2021 legislative session as part of their commitment to expand vital behavioral health services in the state. Washington continues to face a behavioral health crisis with a growing number of residents who need services and a workforce that cannot keep up with demand. The new facility will allow for a comprehensive range of clinical and educational programs designed to help address the state’s critical behavioral health needs.

Scheduled to open late 2023, the six-story building will support a full continuum of behavioral health clinical services focused on supporting urgent health care needs, as well as the transition to community-based living. The facility will hold 150 beds serving adults on long-term civil commitment, geropsychiatry, and behavioral-health patients with comorbidities and significant medical or surgical needs. It will also house a crisis stabilization unit, modern neuromodulation program, and 24/7 telepsychiatry consultation program that will allow UW experts to consult with primary care, community hospital, and emergency room providers across the state to care for individuals with mental health and substance use challenges.

The one-of-a-kind facility will integrate interdisciplinary training and workforce development programs focused on preparing and supporting the next generation of behavioral health providers for the state. Washington state faces an urgent behavioral health workforce shortage, and hundreds of future health care providers and allied health professionals will train at the new facility each year.

Instrumental in securing support for the building, Gov. Jay Inslee, Senate Capital Budget Chair David Frockt, and House Speaker Emeritus Frank Chopp attended the groundbreaking. They spoke about how behavioral health challenges impact all Washingtonians directly or indirectly and the importance of the transformational behavioral health care and workforce development that will occur at the facility. They also spoke about the overwhelming bipartisan and community support that made the facility possible and are excited to be nationwide leaders in behavioral health.

UW and labor leaders also spoke at the groundbreaking emphasizing the importance of the facility for the health and well-being of residents and communities across the state, especially as the detrimental impacts of the ongoing pandemic continue to be felt. The UW is ready to offer compassionate and effective care for patients and families and inspire and train the next generation of behavioral health care providers.

Thank you to the elected officials and UW and community leaders whose advocacy and support made the new Behavioral Health Teaching Facility a reality.

Watch today’s event here. For more information, see UW Medicine’s press release.