Four counties in North Central Washington are continuing to work toward the creation of a regional diversion center for behavioral health needs. 

The counties are consulting with Arizona behavioral healthcare provider Connections Health Solutions on the project. 

Chelan County Commissioner Kevin Overbey says personnel from Connections visited the region last week to assess the delivery of behavioral health care locally. 

"One of the earlier indications is we have a lot of different services, but they're very fractured with regards to county-to-county," said Overbey. "So, the overlap is really, kind of, one of the gaps."  

Overbey spoke about the visit from Connections Monday during a public discussion among Chelan County commissioners and said there were also some positive indications from the group. 

"They really thought that we were leaps and bounds ahead in a lot of areas for a community of our size, and a region of our size," Overbey said. 

The counties are looking to possibly contract with Connections to open an inpatient facility to serve all four counties. 

Commissioner Overbey said there was heavy involvement in meetings with Connections from Dell Anderson, Executive Director of Renew behavioral health services in Grant County and Okanogan County Commissioner Chris Branch, along with Okanogan County Behavioral Health. 

Overbay and fellow Commissioner Shon Smith was present for a workshop held last Thursday with personnel from Connections and health related professionals from a lot of different disciplines in all four counties. 

The workshop lasted about eight hours and included breakout sessions with smaller groups brainstorming. 

Smith said it was incredible to see the involvement of all the parties from the other counties gathered together in one room. 

Overbey said the group of about 20-25 people attending the workshop made a lot of progress. 

Connections will deliver a full report of its findings from last week’s visit in about 30-45 days.  

The provider is already coming to Washington, having announced back in March that it's opening a mental health crisis care center in Kirkland.  

King County invested $11.5 million to create the center, which is the first of its kind in the area,  

The facility will provide services including walk-in behavioral health urgent care, stabilization support and crisis response treatment.   

Once completed in 2024, the Kirkland center is projected to treat more than 14,000 individuals annually.

The regional program in the planning stages for North Central Washington is meant to ultimately cover a wide range of services including prevention, post care assistance, housing, training for jobs and food services   

There is a myriad of services the four counties collectively are trying to get into a single organized program.    

A number of funding sources are being looked at, one of which will likely require public support in the form of a county sales tax increase. No specific dollar figure has been given.   

Overbay said last year that the project could be up and running to serve the four-county area by 2024 or 2025 

Monday, he said the process of trying to bring a regional inpatient behavioral health center into being has taken three years so far. 

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