Swedish Ballard opens new behavioral health unit

May 24, 2016

Swedish is expanding its behavioral health services with the opening of a new unit at Swedish Ballard. The 22-bed inpatient unit opens today and will accept voluntary and involuntary patients ages 18 and older. It will be located on the third and fourth floor of the Central Tower at the hospital.

“This new behavioral health unit was a collaborative effort– Swedish, the Washington State Hospital Association and other member hospitals started a joint conversation about improving psychiatric care for patients who are currently boarding in emergency departments and medical-surgical units,“ said Arpan Waghray, M.D., system medical  director for Behavioral Health, Swedish Health Services. “It quickly became evident there was a critical shortage of regional acute care beds to serve patients with both psychiatric and medical needs in a community hospital setting.”

“Our health care system provides extraordinary life-saving measures, but in many ways, we’re just beginning to understand how to meet our mental and behavioral health needs,” said Scott Bond, President and CEO of WSHA. “The WSHA board put mental health at the top of our legislative priorities, but not because it’s the legislature’s job alone. On the contrary: members like Swedish immediately started looking to see how they could best meet patients’ needs. Meeting both acute medical and psychiatric care needs is extremely difficult, and thousands of patients will benefit from the new unit.” 

Once these critical needs were identified, Swedish continued to work with community mental health partners to bring the unit online. The space was designed to better coordinate care for those with co-morbidity (when two chronic illnesses exist simultaneously), which will not only improve both medical and behavioral health outcomes, it will reduce the cost of care by decreasing repeat visits to the hospital. With the unit located in the hospital, patients will have access to medical ancillary care, including hospitalists, sub-specialists, imaging and surgical services.  

Behavioral health inpatient care can help people stabilize on new medications, adjust to new symptoms, or get other help they need. There are many different types of treatment available, and at Swedish, each treatment is personalized to the patient. 

The space was designed to have a non-institutional feel to create a culture of recovery, mindfulness, respect and safety, and features bright pastel colors, lots of windows and natural light, modern safety standards, private single-bed rooms and open social areas. There is also an exercise room equipped for yoga and stationary bicycles, music in patient rooms and a group program that teaches skill building. 

“Our goal is to treat patients when they are in crisis, help them stabilize, and set them up for success,” said Arpan Waghray, M.D., system medical director for Behavioral Health, Swedish Health Services.

As part of our collaborative effort, Swedish has partnered with Sound Mental Health to ensure seamless care during an inpatient stay and community based stabilization period after discharge. Sound Mental Health will provide a transition support coordination team onsite and will follow each patient for the duration of an inpatient stay and will then guide their transition back into the community. 

“Our partnership with Swedish represents a promising change for those patients who are in need of integrated health services on an inpatient and outpatient basis,” says Dr. David Stone, CEO of Sound Mental Health. “Our close collaboration with Swedish will result in more responsive and personalized care for these patients that will improve their outcomes, reduce their hospital visits and manage health care costs. We are very pleased to work with Swedish and look forward to a continued relationship strengthening this innovative model of care in the Swedish system.”

This new unit is part of Swedish’s holistic approach to behavioral health for both outpatient and inpatient services. For more information about Swedish behavioral health services, visit swedish.org/services/behavioral-health.