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Open Letter to The Residents of Tukwila and Surrounding Communities

Dear Residents,

Cascade Behavioral Health opened its doors in 2013 to restore the lives of adults in the local communities we serve, renewing their hope for a better tomorrow. Our mission is to set the standard for excellence in evidence-based, patient-focused mental health and substance use treatment. We strive to maintain that standing every day by delivering treatment in a safe, respectful, and compassionate environment.

As you may have seen recently, we are in the midst of contract negotiations with our nurses and their Union. The Union has been trying to apply unfair – and in some cases we believe unlawful – external pressures to this process, including picketing, work stoppages, smear campaigns and false accusations.

For our part, we remain fully engaged and committed to the negotiation process with our nurses and their Union. We want to quickly reach a fair resolution so we can resume normal operations. We are saddened that these personnel issues have spilled out into the public. And while we have nothing to hide, we believe contract negotiations should occur at the bargaining table.

In its public statements, the Union has greatly exaggerated stories of unfavorable work conditions to bolster its contract bargaining objectives. These tactics follow their playbook from numerous previous negotiations with other employers in recent years. We cannot say it enough that the well-being and safety of our patients and staff always have been and will be our key priorities. Those who know us know our commitment to those principles.

We are very proud of our staff, who rely on their extensive training and experience to work with patients who are in great need. And when situations occur – which can happen due to the population we serve – our staff employ those skills and proven, industry-standard techniques to resolve them.

Another part of the Union’s tactics are false allegations of our facility’s COVID protocols and availability of PPE. We want to stress that we strictly follow all CDC guidance.  Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have followed rigorous safety, hygiene and cleaning protocols.  We have ample personal protective equipment (PPE) and our common areas are cleaned thoroughly throughout the day by staff and each night by our cleaning staff. And while we have not mandated vaccinations in our facility, we have greatly encouraged and provided access to vaccination opportunities.

We fully recognize this is a critical time for mental health services in the communities we serve and we remain a safe and reliable source for comprehensive care. Mental health remains stigmatized by many. Now is not the time to decrease the access to care for behavioral health. Our medical-surgical partners are counting on our resources during this ongoing pandemic.

We remain fully engaged at the bargaining table. We are confident we can arrive at a just agreement and look forward to the Union being expeditious in this process.

And as always, we will do our very best to serve you, your families or your friends with hope and healing in your times of need.

 

Sincerely,

Chris West

 

About Christopher West, Chief Executive Officer

Chris has been in the behavioral health field for over 15 years, serving in diverse, progressively complex leadership roles.

He began his career with the United States Army at Fort Campbell, KY, deploying for 12 months twice to Iraq where he provided mental health services to those in combat. He then served as a behavioral health leader in the Military Correctional Complex at Fort Leavenworth, KS. After obtaining his master’s degree in Social Work, Chris served as leader of behavioral health clinic and service line operations in Virginia.

Following his military service, he oversaw the behavioral health operations of an inpatient psychiatric facility, emergency psychiatric assessment center, outpatient psychiatric clinics, and behavioral healthcare of three acute care hospitals as behavioral health service line administrator for the largest provider of healthcare services in Kansas.

Chris then became the CEO at a psychiatric hospital in Henderson, NV, with services in behavioral health, chemical dependency, and eating disorders for adults, geriatrics, and adolescents. The continuum of care consisted of a 134-bed psychiatric hospital and extensive outpatient services that included a partial hospitalization program, an intensive outpatient program, and traditional outpatient services for adults and adolescents. He then moved into the role of Regional Vice President for Behavioral Health Services with the largest health system in the country, supporting operations in five states. Chris joined Cascade Behavioral Health as the CEO in July of 2020.

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Open letter to the residents of Tukwila and surrounding communities

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