DSHS Secretary Meneses joins lawmakers, officials on tour of Olympic Heritage Behavioral Health


DSHS Secretary Jilma Meneses, second from right, talks with Olympic Heritage Behavioral Health CEO Dan Davis, after an update meeting and tour of the facility. Kevin Bovenkamp, assistant secretary for the Behavioral Health Administration, from left, Dr. Brian Waiblinger, DSHS chief medical officer, and David Mancuso, a senior research scientist with the Research and Data Analysis Division, also joined the tour.

TUKWILA — Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Jilma Meneses recently joined a group of legislators and other officials from DSHS, the Governor’s Office, and the Health Care Authority for an update briefing and a walkthrough tour of Olympic Heritage Behavioral Health.

The behavioral health facility is nearing its one-year anniversary since DSHS purchased the former privately-owned hospital.

OHBH has played a pivotal role in dramatically improving wait times of people in jail seeking psychiatric beds by accepting civil conversion patients transferred from other state facilities. The combined effort has helped forge a breakthrough moment for Trueblood patients waiting for much-needed behavioral health services. As of this week, zero patients are waiting more than seven days to be admitted to either of the state hospitals.

“There continues to be a steadfast attitude to meet and exceed the ambitious targets related to expansion, facility and program development, and regulatory standards for accreditation (at OHBH),” Meneses said. “While not all the beds at Olympic Heritage are online yet, we’re currently making great use of the bed space for which we were funded.”

Three wards (Camas, Fern and Juniper) house a total of 72 patients. Funding from the Legislature has also been provided to HCA to contract with the University of Washington to operate an additional 40 beds as a residential in-patient facility on a phased-in basis beginning in early 2025.

Gov. Jay Inslee cuts the ribbon to celebrate the opening of Olympic Heritage Behavioral Health in November 2023.

OHBH CEO Dan Davis and his staff briefed the group on a variety of subjects including ongoing construction projects which will improve safety and security for both patients and staff. Projects in progress include camera installation, rekeying interior doors, and additional ward security measures.

The tour included the two wards currently under construction, as well as the Treatment Mall for OHBH patients.

“It is imperative that we exercise our moral and legal responsibility to the people in Washington and collaborate to solve the bed capacity problem,” Meneses told the group. “How we do that is part of the collective thinking for us all.”

I encourage you to think about the people we serve in Washington. Think about the need here. It shouldn’t be a choice, whether to help. It’s not up to just one agency or office; it’s a collective effort and a collective responsibility we all share.”