The proposed Three Rivers Behavioral Health Recovery center will proceed at the former Kennewick General Hospital, but with some functions in a separate location to comply with rules set by the current owner, LifePoint.
“Stay tuned. We’re still moving forward. It looks like it is going to happen. But we may not know what the final product will look like,” said Lee Kerr, superintendent of the Kennewick Public Hospital District during a board meeting on June 30.
The public hospital district owned and operated the old hospital before it was sold in bankruptcy to the parent of Trios Health.
Benton County confirmed it intends to buy the old hospital, 900 S. Auburn St., and is committed to establishing a recovery center catering to those experiencing mental health or substance abuse crises.
In a statement attempting to clarify a confusing situation, the county said it negotiated terms of a purchase with LifePoint that include restrictions on services it can offer at the Auburn Street property. The county said some functions of the proposed Three Rivers Behavioral Health Recovery Center may be sited elsewhere.
Benton and Franklin counties have both agreed to support the eventual operation with tax dollars.
The next step entails creating an advisory committee to guide the process. Both counties have invited people to serve on the group, which is expected to begin meeting in late July.
Restrictions on the old hospital were expected. Recovery advocates anticipated LifePoint would balk at competing with the new facility for some services. The exact terms of what will be allowed had not been set in early July.
LifePoint/Trios vacated the old hospital earlier this year when it relocated its birthing center to Trios Southridge Hospital.
The county has budgeted $5 million it received through the American Rescue Plan for the undertaking and has secured an additional $9 million in state and federal funds.
“It is our goal to have a Recovery Center up and running in our community by 2025. We know this isn’t soon enough, but our staff are working to get these much-needed services to our community as quickly, efficiently and affordably as possible,” it said.
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