Seattle Psychiatric Hospital

Mental illness affects about one in five adults and youths. Moreover, around one in every twenty-five adults will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives which could require treatment within a hospital setting. Seattle does not currently have sufficient facilities to provide adequate care for these people. In fact, a 2018 report ranks the state of Washington 28thin the nation for providing access to professional mental health services. Fortunately, the new Seattle psychiatric hospital could bring new hope.

Seattle Psychiatric Hospital

Although Seattle has several options for in and outpatient care in King County, there are many people who are not receiving the treatment they need due to the chronic lack of facilities in the area. 

Residential Treatment Facilities Seattle

Currently, there is a severe deficit of beds available for acute psychiatric care and over forty percent of needy people are not being admitted to hospital due to the lack of space.

West Seattle Psychiatric Hospital

This seventy-bed hospital, located on Holden Street, does not count with emergency rooms but offers a refuge for adults and older adults facing a crisis which could be life-threatening. Patients are referred by the King County Crisis and Commitment Services, and this hospital receives both voluntary and involuntary admissions. The hospital originally dates back to 1871 and lacks some modern facilities and amenities.

Northwest Hospital

At this hospital, on 115th Avenue, older adults are treated on a voluntary and involuntary basis in the Geropsychiatric center which offers both outpatient and inpatient care.

Seattle Children’s Hospital

This hospital, situated on Sandpoint Way, provides treatment for children and adolescents who are admitted voluntarily. There is a specialized psychiatric unit with 41 beds for inpatient care.

Harborview Medical Center

This medical center, located on Ninth Avenue, receives adults for voluntary and involuntary care and treatment. They have 89 beds in the psychiatric unit for inpatient care.

Psychiatric Hospitalization in Seattle

Psychiatric hospitals provide both out-patient and in-patient care for people with mental illnesses. Inpatient treatment can be undertaken with or without the person’s consent.

Voluntary vs Involuntary Admissions

Voluntary admissions are the most usual, sometimes however an involuntary admission for inpatient treatment or hospitalization can be necessary.

Medical Necessity Criteria

For an involuntary admission, the person must meet certain criteria. They must pose a risk to their own safety or to that of others, or, their mental condition should be damaging their physical health. Patients can be referred for involuntary admission by their doctor or through the court system. These patients will be examined by an independent doctor who will assess whether they meet the criteria or not.

What is Inpatient Psychiatric Care Like?

First, a complete physical and mental evaluation is performed and a treatment plan is developed and implemented. This could include therapies and/or medications. Voluntary patients usually stay in the hospital for 10-14 days, depending on their needs. Involuntary patients often remain in-hospital for longer periods of time. Generally, until the hospital can give a recommendation that the person is fit to be discharged.

Teaching Hospitals

Teaching hospitals are very important, not only for training medical professionals, but also for doing research and promoting innovative medical care. Teaching hospitals contribute to the training and development of a wide range of healthcare professionals. This includes doctors, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, counselors, and social workers in the behavioral health fields.

New Psychiatric Teaching Hospital in Seattle

A new state-backed psychiatric teaching hospital in Seattle, which will be affiliated with the University of Washington, is being planned to improve and increase mental illness treatment facilities in the area. It will most likely be attached to either the UW Medical Center or to the Harborview Medical Center.

Bills to Improve Mental Health in Washington

Two Democratic senators have put forward similar bills for a new psychiatric teaching hospital in Seattle. 

The Plan of Action

The University of Washington Medical School must present a report that will include a proposed location, staffing calculations, budget figures, and a plan as to how the teaching hospital will be set, up by December 1st of this year.

Expectations for the New Hospital

The new hospital is expected to have up to 150 inpatient beds for people suffering from a mental health crisis. Although, the initial number of beds could be significantly lower if a staged development plan is chosen. 

It will also provide outpatient treatments, a video teleconferencing facility which medical practitioners can access to help them diagnose certain conditions. Moreover, Skype or phone calls will be used to connect psychiatrists to patients in remote parts of the state 24-hours a day. The cost of the new Seattle psychiatric hospital is expected to be in the region of $675-million.

Washington State Mental Health Problems

The lack of beds and facilities is damaging the mental health care that is currently offered in Washington state.

Acute Care

Currently, there are insufficient acute care beds and many of the existing facilities do not meet the needs of either staff or patients.

Financial Issues and Funding

Last year the Western State Hospital lost over $50-million in federal funding and was decertified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


Chronic overcrowding means that many patients remain in emergency rooms for long periods of time waiting for a psychiatric bed to become available. In fact, some people end up in jail instead of in a hospital.

Hospital Staff

The overcrowded conditions can produce stress, tension, and sometimes violence. Patient attacks on staff members have issues with working hours and workers’ compensation expenses.

The Price of Saving Money

Early access to psychiatric medical care allows for prompt diagnosis and faster treatment which can prevent bigger problems from developing. Acute mental health episodes can be much more difficult and costly to treat. Investing in an improved mental health system that offers the correct treatment when needed will save both money and lives in the long-term.


author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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