by Jack Mayne The drug and alcohol treatment facility slated for Des Moines’ Woodmont neighborhood will be moved to downtown Kent, Valley Cities said in a news release Thursday morning. “The Recovery Centers of King County building (in Kent) will offer partial services originally slated for the Woodmont Recovery Center in Des Moines,” said Valley Cities in a statement that added it acquired a former Recovery Centers of King County building at 505 Washington Avenue South in downtown Kent. However, the Des Moines Woodmont site is still under consideration by Valley Cities for outpatient behavioral health counseling, primary medical and dental care, and agency administration offices. The Des Moines conditional use permit for the site remains valid for five years. Kaplan lauds cooperation Mayor Dave Kaplan said Des Moines appreciates “the folks at Valley Cities being cooperative and listening to the concerns of the community.” “There is no question that these services are necessary to get people the help they need to reclaim their lives,” Kaplan said. “The Kent facility only scratches the surface of the need for available mental health treatment and care facilities not only here in South King County but across the State of Washington.” Valley Cities said it paid $1 million and will operate mental health evaluation and treatment services out of the Kent facility, with 32 beds available. “The facility will provide a portion of the essential mental health and substance abuse treatment programs that were slated to be at Woodmont Recovery Center in Des Moines,” Valley Cities’ said. “Plans for the comprehensive campus have been postponed.” Resident’s outcry caused move The Valley Cities statement said the agency had “agreed to work with city, county and state officials to research alternate sites following a public outcry in the Des Moines community regarding the proximity to an elementary school and library.” “We listened to the community’s concerns about the Woodmont site and explored other options,” said Ken Taylor, chief executive officer for Valley Cities. “We know that we’re good neighbors and have a positive impact on the communities we serve. But unfortunately, that’s not enough to overcome the stigma facing our clients. We were lucky to find something that will meet some of the specific needs of people living with mental illness, but this is a very partial solution.” The Des Moines’ Woodmont Recovery Center plans had included an evaluation and treatment facility, a secure detoxification unit, a Recovery Café and an outpatient services building. This integrated system of care would have provided fewer barriers to a person seeking help for mental health and substance use issues as well as primary care. More beds in Kent Taylor said the new Kent site is “ideally located in close proximity to the Valley Cities offices in downtown Kent that houses the agency’s administrative offices and provides outpatient counseling services. Valley Cities is proud to have served the people of Kent for almost 50 years and looks forward to continuing a cooperative relationship with the Kent community for many years to come.” The Kent site only recently became available and, but, with only 13,481 square feet, is not big enough for Valley Cities’ full “campus” design that would place all components of mental health and substance abuse treatment and recovery in close proximity. Taylor said King County has only 201 involuntary treatment beds and that people from South King County must travel long distances to access services in downtown Seattle, Kirkland, or Burien. The Kent facility, located at 505 Washington Avenue South, is within easy access to Interstate 5 and located in the South King County area. Valley Cities said it previously operated as the Recovery Centers of King County. Services in the Kent building provided intensive inpatient detoxification services for low-income individuals for more than 32 years but ceased operations earlier in 2015 due to lack of funding. The facility has the proper permitting and zoning to operate as a mental health treatment facility but requires an estimated $7 million in improvements to meet the state’s licensure and certification requirements. Working with legislators Valley Cities said it is currently working with the State of Washington, notably, Washington House Speaker Frank Chopp, Sen. Karen Keiser, and State Rep. Tina Orwall on an approval to move the $5 million awarded for Woodmont improvements to finance updates to the Kent facility. “We will continue to work together to address the stigma against people with mental illness or substance abuse problems so that community based treatment will be accessible to all communities,” said Keiser. Improvements to the Kent facility will start early January 2016 with plans for the site to be operational by the end of the year.

Read our extensive previous coverage of this issue here.
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