by Comprehensive Staff
Comprehensive has always been ready to step up to meet needs. First and foremost, we are about meeting the needs of patients with mental health or substance use disorders. We are also about helping our communities and partners to do the same. That is who we are.
In February 2015, Washington State was the defendant in a lawsuit about the timeliness of access to evaluation for competency in criminal cases and for the timeliness of access to restoration services. When the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services first reached out to us about our interest helping to meet their need to improve access to competency restoration services (services to help a person accused of a crime be able to participate in and assist in their own defense), we immediately said yes. We knew we could help and provide a great service that would help both patients and our state partner. In April a federal judge found the state was not meeting its obligations and imposed a deadline for meeting defined timelines for access. The deadline was January 1, 2016.
Fast forward to September 2015, we were notified that the State was interested in moving forward with Comprehensive to provide restoration services. We proposed two options for siting the program and the state selected our option to use the vacant Yakima County facility at the fairgrounds. We entered negotiations with the State and with Yakima County. By the end of October 2015 we had a signed State contract and by December 15, 2015 we had a County contract. Remodeling began right after Christmas. We were off to the races.
As you might guess, standing up a program including remodeling, hiring staff, obtaining licensure as a treatment facility, etc. doesn’t happen overnight. We knew the state had been trying to do the same thing at their state hospitals since our first contact in early 2015. For a variety of factors they weren’t able to get the task done and so enter Comprehensive. Knowing the court imposed deadline, we committed to get our new program operational in a mere 3 months (March 1). In hindsight, I think we might have been a little outrageous in our thinking but, do you know what, our staff did it! We hired staff, completed the critical pieces of the remodel and obtained licensure and were prepared to accept patients on March 1.
We are very proud of our staff and the program they have developed. The facility is nice and compares very favorably to what patients have received in the past at State hospitals. We have had several state staff say our environment is superior in many ways to the state hospital. It is in a former jail building, but is not a jail. It is secure, but it is a quality treatment environment.
I have no qualms about the program we are offering and, I suspect few others would either. I say few others because the legal groups who are suing the state about the deadlines have chosen to criticize the state for moving some provision of these services outside the state hospitals and have raised legal arguments to bar the state from proceeding. Unfortunately, the alternative would be for the patients to remain in jail which is exactly what the original suit seeks to stop. The most recent legal issue is not about Comprehensive. It is about an on-going dispute with the State.
Our patient population is growing steadily toward our capacity of 24. We have taken patients that would otherwise have had no place to go. We are excited and proud of our work and look forward to the opportunity to stack our results up against anyone. Stepping up to the plate to take care of patient and community needs - that’s what it is all about.