SEQUIM — Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe leaders anticipate receiving full funding from the state in the next year to construct a $26 million, 16-bed psychiatric evaluation and treatment facility in Sequim.
Legislators earmarked $13 million in the state’s $8.7 billion, 2023-2025 capital construction budget (Senate Bill 5200) for the project at the end of the 2023 regular session.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature is needed this month to proceed.
“We’re very excited,” said Brent Simcosky, the tribe’s health services director. “We anticipate getting the other half in the 2024 legislative session.”
Tribal officials said they have architectural drawings for an approximate 18,000-square-foot evaluation and treatment inpatient facility. In March 2022, legislators approved $3.25 million for design and initial site work.
The facility is to be built south of the tribe’s Jamestown Healing Clinic — a $17 million, 16,800-square-foot medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic — at 526 S. Ninth Ave. The clinic opened on July 6, offering wrap-around services to people afflicted with opioid use disorder.
The evaluation and treatment facility (E&T) would serve people in crisis, with similar state facilities seeing an average of 10- to 14-day stays, Simcosky said.
“People need to understand this is a different patient than at the Healing Clinic,” he said.
“Very rarely would someone at the Healing Clinic be at (the E&T). They are in crisis, threatening to harm themselves or others. They may be off medications and we need to stabilize them and get them to the next step.”
Simcosky calls the E&T facility “an urgent need for the North Olympic Peninsula,” with health officials in Clallam and Jefferson counties and local state legislators advocating for it.
Local first responders must take patients in crisis to facilities in Bremerton or Olympia about 30 times a month, he said.
“We’ll be able to offer it differently and keep it sustainable (as we) can renegotiate reimbursement rates with the state,” Simcosky said.
An E&T facility was proposed as a Phase 2 project for the Healing Clinic/MAT clinic, but it was dropped because of costs.
It would serve residents in Clallam and Jefferson counties, as well as Native American residents who have preferential treatment, Simcosky said.
“There’s plenty of need in our two counties,” he said.
The E&T facility would be locked down with multiple sets of doors with security, and people couldn’t leave unless authorized, Simcosky said.
“It’s very, very safe,” he said.
While he anticipates construction beginning in spring 2024 and finishing the following spring in 2025, Simcosky said tribal officials anticipate going through the City of Sequim for a required conditional use permit because the area is not being zoned for inpatient treatment.
“Our attorneys have looked at the process and they felt it’s a fair process,” he said. “It lengthens the process, and that’s why we figure it’ll take a year.”
The Healing Clinic was challenged in court and appeals were made to a city-hired hearing examiner.
Two of the examiner’s final rulings required a social services navigator — later agreed upon by the City of Sequim as a contract with Peninsula Behavioral Health for $100,000 per year over three years — and a special committee of community agency leaders and community members overseeing the facility’s impact on area services, including fire service and police.
Charisse Deschenes, Sequim’s deputy city manager/director of community development and economic development, said the tribe has not submitted anything to the city, had detailed conversations with staff, nor scheduled a pre-application meeting about the E&T facility.
While the project could possibly require a conditional use permit, she said she won’t make any determination until it comes officially to her desk for review.
Simcosky said the tribe plans to go with Korsmo Construction of Tacoma, which built the Healing Clinic, to construct the E&T facility.
Who would operate the building is still up for consideration, Simcosky said, as the tribe could do it themselves, hire an agency like Olympic Medical Center, or do a hybrid of leadership.
W. Ron Allen, tribal chairman and CEO of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, could not be reached this week for comment.
For more about the Jamestown Healing Clinic, visit jamestownhealingclinic.org or call 360-681-7755.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at email@example.com.