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Tim Dellit, MD, CEO, UW Medicine; Cindy Hecker, CEO, UW Medical Center; and Jürgen Unützer, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UW School of Medicine; were joined by Gov. Jay Inslee, UW President Ana Mari Cauce, state legislators and labor partners on Wednesday, May 15, to celebrate the opening of the Center for Behavioral Health and Learning.

Jürgen Unützer

At the ceremony, the speakers agreed that the opening of the center marks a turning point in addressing our state’s need for increased access to behavioral healthcare. They also celebrated the bipartisan support from the state legislature, the collaboration of construction, architectural, and UW/UW Medicine project teams, and the nearly 1 million hours of labor that, as Unützer said, went into making “this dream a reality.”

In his remarks, Gov. Inslee credited Rashi Gupta, UW Medicine director of state relations, with helping develop the original vision for the center in her previous role as a senior policy adviser in his administration, working with Rep. Frank Chopp and a bipartisan team of legislators. He also gave her the ceremonial scissors to cut the ribbon.

Other speakers representing the state included Rep. Frank Chopp and Sens. Manka Dhingra and John Braun. Jane Hopkins, RN, president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and a former nurse at Harborview, represented the many labor partners and joined in celebrating the opening of the center as a space for people in crisis.

Left to right: Frank Chopp, Jay Inslee, Rashi Gupta, Manka Dhingra, Cindy Hecker, Tim Dellit, Ana Mari Cauce.

On behalf of UW Medicine, Dellit thanked state leaders for their support and confidence in UW Medicine’s mission.

“In our role as the state’s public hospital system and safety net, UW Medicine often provides services that are available nowhere else,” he said. “The center will help address the significant behavioral health need for our state and the gap in access to these services for many members of our community.”

Hecker added that the center was designed to create a welcoming and safe environment with open spaces and integrated art to promote healing and recovery for patients and to train future generations of behavioral healthcare professionals: “I am thrilled to reflect on how the care and training at this new center will benefit our patients, our staff, and our community for years and years to come.”

More from the ribbon-cutting ceremony

Watch video clips of the ceremony.

Read more on the UW Medicine Newsroom.