Ribbon-cutting marks new era for behavioral healthcare

UW Medicine's Center for Behavioral Health and Learning addresses the state’s need for increased hospital care and workforce training.

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Gov. Jay Inslee, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce and UW Medicine leaders gathered Wednesday, May 15, to celebrate the opening of the Center for Behavioral Health and Learning.  

Approximately 90 people attended the ribbon-cutting and had the opportunity to tour the center. They included state Rep. Frank Chopp and Sens. Manka Dhingra and John Braun. 

picture of stained glass at the Center for Behavioral Health and Learning
Tara Brown Photography A stained-glass artwork originally commissioned for Northwest Hospital in the 1990s was installed in the new building. 

“In designing this building, our focus was on creating a welcoming and safe environment to promote healing and recovery,” said Cynthia Hecker, CEO, UW Medical Center. “To ensure patients have the full spectrum of care needed, we incorporated large interior spaces for group therapy programs and dedicated procedural space to provide care that we would otherwise not have been able to offer.” 

The six-story facility on the UW Medical Center-Northwest campus houses 150 total beds to increase capacity for behavioral health care. This includes 75 long-term civil commitment beds, 50 acute-care medical and surgical beds for patients who also have mental health challenges, and 25 beds for geropsychiatric patients.   

“At UW Medicine, we are always looking for innovative ways to improve the health of the public. It’s a key part of our mission,” said Dr. Tim Dellit, CEO, UW Medicine.  “In our role as the state’s public hospital system and safety net, UW Medicine often provides services that are available nowhere else. The center will help address the significant behavioral health need for our state and the gap in access to these services for many members of our community.” 

Contributing to the facility's restorative environment are artworks acquired through the Art in Public Places Program, which is administered by the Washington State Arts Commission.

picture of terrace garden at Center for Behavioral Health and Training
Tara Brown Photography Patients have access to a spacious fourth-floor terrace with a garden. The space was envisioned by Carl Hampson of SRG Partnership, the architectural firm that designed the center. 

“We gave considerable thought to designing rooms that would be conducive to the care and safety of our patients. Our goal was always to create an open and welcoming environment that would not have an institutional look and feel,” said Dr. Ryan Kimmel, chief of psychiatry, UW Medical Center. 

As part of its training mission, the center is also home to an interdisciplinary training and workforce development program that is focused on preparing and supporting the next generation of behavioral health providers for Washington state.  

“Today marks the end of a journey, a partnership that we began in the fall of 2018, working closely with Gov. Inslee and our state legislature to make a serious investment in the way we care for Washingtonians living with mental health and addiction challenges,” said Dr. Jürgen Unützer, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UW School of Medicine. 

“Today is also the beginning of a new journey. This beautiful facility and the care we can provide because of it, give us new hope. It gives us new and effective treatments and a space for learning that will help us inspire and teach the next generation of mental health professionals.”

Related: Access downloadable, broadcast-ready video of comments from Dr. Tim Dellit and visuals from a tour of the facility.


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Tags:mental health

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