One step closer to Benton County’s addiction and mental health crisis recovery center

According to the president of the Benton-Franklin Recovery Coalition, a Tri-Citian dies of addiction every five days.

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Benton County celebrated a milestone Thursday morning, one they said will impact the whole of the community. They’re one step closer to an addiction services and mental health crisis facility.

It’s been a long time coming—years in the making. They said the facility will have immediate benefits to the community.

“A Tri-Citian dies of addiction every five days,” said Michele Gerber, the President of the Benton-Franklin Recovery Coalition.

They received the deed to the former Kennewick General Hospital, which they will be turning into a facility for addiction services and mental health crises; a needed step for local recovery.

It’s located on Auburn St. and 10th Ave. They also plan on leasing a space located at 10 E Bruneau Ave.

READ: Former Kennewick General Hospital will become Benton County recovery center

“We are going to have less crime, lower jail and court costs, lower hospital costs and shorter waiting times in hospital emergency rooms, because frequent overdose cases should go down,” explained Gerber.

According to the County, the goal is to have the recovery center up and running by 2025. In a project like this, every minute and every day counts to save a life.

“We know in recovery that when someone’s finally ready, you only have like a two-to-five-minute window,” expressed Danielle Stenehjem, a substance abuse disorder counselor. “That’s about it.”

They said right now, it’s a long process to find help, and then an even longer to get a bed.

Time is of the essence in addiction or mental health recovery.

“And by the time you do all that a lot of times you’ve lost the bubble. We’ve lost the purpose of the person who’s willing to go in,” said Gerber. “‘No Wrong Door’ means when you’re ready, we’re ready too.”

The treatment they plan to provide, the 24-hour care and more, just doesn’t exist right now in the Columbia Basin area.

“Providing treatment assessment, medical withdrawal management detox, residential inpatient treatment, recovery housing, job training assistance and Youth Services,” Benton County Commissioner Will McKay listed the care.

Right now, for care like that, the Recovery Coalition said people have to travel out of the region, and sometimes even out of the state. That’s not a realistic possibility for those who need immediate care.

“Sometimes, you need someone to put their hands out and say I got you,” said Stenehjem.

“When you have care at home, we’ll have aftercare at home. Then people continue with the bonds and the support systems that they’re going to need going forward,” said Gerber.

It’s been years in the making for the Recovery Coalition, and for McKay…he’s just ready to get things started.

“I’m super excited…let’s get it going,” he said.

The plan and next steps are to get a contractor to oversee smaller providers, and create a local network for recovery services. Provider evaluations are happening in December.

READ: Benton County puts out request for proposal for crisis recovery center