State grants will help address infrastructure needs for behavioral health in Kitsap

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Two critical behavioral health providers in Kitsap County say they will be able to remain open after receiving an injection of state funds last week. 

The Washington Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that an outpatient facility in Bremerton run by Agape Unlimited and the Kitsap Recovery Center in Port Orchard were both being awarded grants to address urgent capital improvements and stave off the possibility of closure within the next few years.

In total, five facilities across Kitsap, Yakima and King counties will benefit from a combined $7.3 million investment from the state’s Closure Prevention grant program. Award recipients had to demonstrate that – without a state investment – they were likely to close within the next two years. 

“Many of our community behavioral health providers are operating on a razor-thin margin,” Commerce Director Mike Fong said in a press release. “Without this critical funding, they would likely be closing their doors in the near future.” 

Commerce estimates the funds will sustain 236 behavioral health beds as well as outpatient treatment services. It is part of a statewide effort to end civil patient placement  at the state’s largest hospitals in favor of placing patients at smaller, community-based facilities. 

The Kitsap Recovery Center was awarded over $86,400 to repair and replace its fire dampers. That will be required to pass future safety inspections and meet the conditions necessary to operate. 

The center has 27 inpatient treatment beds and 9 sub-acute detox beds. It serves over 700 patients a year as the only medical detox facility in Kitsap County, said its Clinical Manager Keith Winfield. 

“Receiving the Commerce grant means we can continue to offer low-barrier, impactful service to members of the community,” he said in a statement.  “We are the only detox in our region, and not having that service would be devastating to our community members.”

Agape Unlimited, a Bremerton-based nonprofit that serves people who suffer from substance abuse, mental health disorders or homelessness, was awarded over $1.38 million. Funds will replace a crumbling retaining wall and parking lot at its outpatient facility off Auto Center Way.  

Sara Marez-Fields, Executive Director of Agape, said  funds would allow them to continue serving the community’s most vulnerable members for years to come.  

“Without this funding our community would have suffered a great hardship by losing a critical behavioral health facility that continues to build programs to support our community,” she said in a statement. 

Conor Wilson is a Murrow News fellow, reporting for the Kitsap Sun and Gig Harbor Now, a nonprofit newsroom based in Gig Harbor, through a program managed by Washington State University.

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