Long-awaited second mental health hospital submits plans to city of Lacey

Long-awaited second mental health hospital submits plans to city of Lacey

Lacey is on its way to becoming home to a second mental health hospital.

South Sound Behavioral Hospital opened on Woodland Square Loop in 2018, and now Providence St. Peter Hospital and its partner, Fairfax Behavioral Health, have submitted plans to the city of Lacey for Olympia Behavioral Health at 3000 Marvin Road NE. The hospital was first announced in 2016.

Fairfax currently operates similar facilities in Everett, Kirkland and Monroe.

The hospital is proposed to be about 76,000 square feet, large enough to accommodate 104 patient beds, according to information shared by the city.

“Now, more than ever, we are seeing the need for behavioral health services in our community, and COVID-19 has highlighted those needs,” Providence spokeswoman Angela Maki said in an email. “We continue to advocate for the need to serve this vulnerable population in a facility that will meet their entire continuum of care.”

Lacey has identified the proposal as a “Type II Essential Public Facility,” which means a conditional use permit is required and a public hearing will be conducted before a hearings examiner. Once the hearings examiner makes a recommendation, it then comes before Lacey City Council for a vote.

Dates have not been set, but once the examiner makes a recommendation, the council will weigh the issue within 30 days, Lacey senior planner Sarah Schelling said.

South Sound Behavioral Hospital went through the same process in 2017. Lacey City Council unanimously approved its conditional use permit.

The forested land at 3000 Marvin Road NE measures 21 acres, but Providence plans to leave most of the forest and wetlands intact, Schelling said. The conditional use and wetland permit applications were sent to the city at the end of June, and were deemed complete on Aug. 27.

How did Lacey become home to two mental health hospitals?

Years ago a company called US HealthVest proposed South Sound Behavioral Hospital through the state Department of Health’s Certificate of Need process — a step required in Washington state when a hospital proposes a new facility or service. US HealthVest won approval from the state for its hospital, then Providence appealed the state’s decision, which was later upheld.

Providence and Fairfax then submitted the Olympia Behavioral Health plan to the state and it was rejected, followed by a request for reconsideration that also was denied. Finally, the state, Providence and US HealthVest came to an agreement to let both hospitals move forward.

The public can comment on the Olympia Behavioral Health application until 5 p.m. Sept. 11. Send comments to Lacey Community Development Department, 420 College St. SE Lacey, WA 98503 or by email to sschelli@ci.lacey.wa.us.