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Message from Leadership: Providence Fairfax Partnership Already Changing Lives

Published October 6, 2014

Message from Joanne Roberts, Chief Medical Officer

A new hospital opened in Everett last Monday. In fact, the hospital is inside of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, on the top floor at Pacific Campus. The 30-bed behavioral health hospital is a completely independent hospital that is adding desperately needed inpatient services to Snohomish County. We are thrilled to be partnering with Fairfax hospital for this cause.

Until now, Snohomish County, the third largest county in Washington, has been served with only 23 beds, at Swedish Edmonds. That meant that most patients who needed inpatient mental health services had to leave the county, and it meant that many patients who needed inpatient psychiatric services got none at all.

On any given day, we were seeing up to 12-14 patients in need of psychiatric beds—the most out of all other hospitals in the state. By early last week, we saw that need go down to zero. Fairfax opened on Monday, September 29, and quickly cared for patients, delivering definitive, effective, and intensive psychiatric treatment.

The story of the Fairfax agreement is one of vision and collaboration. More than two years ago, leaders at Fairfax recognized the need in Snohomish County for more inpatient psychiatric services. Seeing that PRMCE was moving into a new bed tower, they approached us about possibly leasing space in vacated areas, rather than build new buildings that would add costs to the community. Since then, both organizations moved ahead through the inevitable legal, regulatory, and financial bumps that comes with a large project. In every meeting I attended, the vision was always, “We will find a way to deliver what this community needs.”

Fairfax leaders tell us that while these 30 beds are crucial to serving our community’s needs, they are only a start. Snohomish County still remains short of mental health professionals of nearly every sort, from counselors and therapists to psychiatrists to residential treatment centers. By having high-level inpatient services provided by a large, highly regarded provider such as Fairfax, Snohomish County suddenly becomes a more inviting community for professionals looking to set up practices.

In addition to collaborating with Providence, Fairfax is also working with others in the community to build stronger, more reliable services, from numerous governmental agencies to The Everett Clinic, whose providers will be helping to staff the new hospital.

This venture by Fairfax and Providence and others represents exactly why Snohomish County remains a beacon for others around the country. In so many places, health care organizations compete for well-insured patients and try to avoid those with few resources. In Snohomish County, health care organizations collaborate in order to serve one entire community and every person in it.

Each day I come to work, as I walk up to the building with the big blue cross, I am reminded of the words, “Especially the poor and vulnerable, through our compassionate service.” That is the mission of Providence, and it is the mission of our community, as well. In fact, when Providence adopted the strategy of “building healthier communities, together,” leaders surely were reflecting the values of health care in Snohomish County.