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‘The need is critical’: Inpatient psychiatric unit for teens set to open this month

Services & Programs

February 05, 2020

Inland Northwest Behavioral Health held a ribbon-cutting Tuesday for a new inpatient adolescent unit for teens experiencing mental health emergencies.

The 25-bed unit on West Fifth Avenue and Browne Street is set to open in mid-February. It will serve adolescents ages 13 to 17 with mental and behavioral health needs that require hospitalization, adding to the region’s system of mental health care.

“We’re so thrilled to have this access point that has not been here,” Dorothy Sawyer, CEO of the for-profit psychiatric hospital, said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday.

The adolescent unit is the last of four units to open at the hospital, which opened its doors to adults in October 2018. In 2019 alone, the hospital, which is operated by United Health Services, served nearly 1,400 adults requiring inpatient care for mental and behavioral diagnoses and conditions in its three units with 75 total beds.

Community leaders, health care stakeholders and elected officials, including Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, celebrated the unit opening Tuesday afternoon.

Woodward said she thinks the beds will fill up fast and the unit will have far-reaching benefits.

“If you want to work upstream, you have to start with young people,” Woodward said.

In Spokane, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center has a 24-bed inpatient unit for youth between the ages of 12 and 17. Most inpatient stays there are between seven and 10 days, Tamara Sheehan, director of behavioral health, said in a statement. Their unit is often full, but like most inpatient units treating emergencies, the census can vary.

Across state lines, Kootenai Health also has an inpatient unit for youth ages 6 to 17 who are experiencing mental health crises. Kootenai can usually accommodate about 24 beds in their unit, although they are licensed for 32. The average length of stay there is about a week.

Two local nonprofits also provide inpatient beds for youth experiencing mental health crises.

Daybreak Youth Services currently has six beds open for teenage girls ages 12 to 18. Excelsior operates 14 beds for teenage boys ages 13 to 17. Both programs have reported being at capacity before, and representatives from both nonprofits expressed excitement about Inland Northwest opening its doors to local teens.

“People coming to take part in this effort is welcomed,” said Andrew Hill, CEO of Excelsior. “The need is critical – it’s there.”

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