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What is the mission of the Center for Behavioral Health and Learning?

The Center for Behavioral Health and Learning seeks to improve access to behavioral health services across Washington state. The six-story building will open in phases between April and July 2024 on the UW Medical Center – Northwest campus and will provide 150 inpatient beds, a Neuromodulation Center, and telehealth facilities designed to deliver care to individuals struggling with serious physical and behavioral health problems. The center will also host interdisciplinary workforce development programs focused on training the next generation of mental health providers.

Why is UW Medicine building this center?

In 2018, Washington legislators announced a plan to partner with UW Medicine to address the state’s shortage of mental healthcare facilities and providers. Washington State allocated $244 million toward building the Center for Behavioral Health and Learning. With this funding, the state recognized that UW Medicine’s mission to improve the health of the public aligns seamlessly with the goal of providing better access to mental health care in our communities. The new center also allows UW Medicine to consolidate many of our current programs for patient care and training in one location.

What mental health care challenges are we working to address?

Estimates suggest that one in five Washington state residents struggle with mental health or addiction problems at some point in their lives. Moreover, mental health issues worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to mental health care in our state is very poor, ranking near the bottom in a recent national survey. This is due, in part, to insufficient or outdated facilities and severe workforce shortages. The result is that patients face long waits for inpatient and outpatient care.

What kinds of care and services will be available?

The center will provide 150 beds and support a variety of treatment areas and clinical services, including:

  • 25 inpatient beds for geriatric patients needing psychiatric care.
  • 50 inpatient, medical/surgical beds for patients with both medical and behavioral health issues.
  • 75 inpatient beds specifically for patients on 90-day or 180-day, involuntary, civil commitments. These beds will not be for acute psychiatric stays, voluntary hospitalization or for patients who are involved in the criminal justice system.
  • An outpatient clinic will provide neuromodulation services including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
  • Space for an observation unit for behavioral health patients with eight recliners and four calming rooms.
  • A telehealth program to support community providers in Washington state who are caring for patients with behavioral health conditions, including substance use disorders.
  • Workforce training and development for future behavioral health caregivers.
  • A dining area to serve the entire UW Medical Center – Northwest campus.

What are the admission criteria for inpatient care?

The center’s 75 long-term, psychiatric beds will be reserved for patients on psychiatric units in Washington state who are deemed likely to benefit from a longer period of hospitalization, access to specialized medical care, and/or access to the services provided by the Neuromodulation Center. These 75 beds are not for emergency department patients in need of acute psychiatric hospitalization.

Are we hiring new staff members? Who can apply and how?

We are actively hiring many clinical and non-clinical roles to care for patients and operate the building. The new six-story building is a beautiful, safe place to work with natural lighting, open-concept spaces and an interdisciplinary training environment. Amenities will include a new kitchen and dining area for patients, staff and visitors. Positions will be posted on the UW Medicine Careers page as they become available. UW Medicine recruiters are attending job fairs and working on partnerships and collaborations with UW Medicine’s Psychiatry Residency Training Program, the UW School of Nursing and other programs.

Will existing UW Medicine departments and patients move into the new building?

In June 2024, the existing Adult Psychiatric Unit (APU), located in the E-Wing at UW Medical Center – Northwest, will move into the sixth floor as part of the center’s new geropsychiatric unit. Additionally, Medical Surgical Extend (MSE) unit staff and a subset of patients needing both medical and psychiatric care will be moving into the second and third floors of the new building. Faculty and staff from the UW Medicine Psychiatry Residency Training Program will be moving into administrative offices on the third floor of the new building.

What will happen to the E-Wing Adult Psychiatric Unit at UW Medical Center – Northwest?

To help increase access to behavioral health care, UW Medicine will remodel the existing adult psychiatry unit into a 14-bed, adult voluntary psychiatric unit. The remodeled unit is anticipated to open in 2025.

How will we ensure the safety of our staff, patients and loved ones?

The building has been intentionally designed to address security concerns. On-site public safety staff will provide round-the-clock security protection. All visitors will be required to check in upon arrival. Visitors to patients on secured behavioral health floors will need to stow personal belongings in a locker and use elevator access cards to enter and exit those floors. The center will have a separate, dedicated entrance for incoming psychiatric patients featuring a secure, controlled point of entry (sally port) to ensure patient and staff safety.

Why are medical and surgical services incorporated into a center focused on behavioral health?

Because patients often do not have isolated medical or behavioral health illnesses, the center is designed to provide holistic care where psychiatrists, internal medicine physicians and subspecialists can treat behavioral health and medical issues simultaneously.

Is the Center for Behavioral Health and Learning accessible by public transportation?

King County Metro has several existing bus routes, including Route 40, Route 346 and Route 345. University of Washington employees are eligible for a fully subsidized U-PASS, which allows free access to Link light rail, community transit and metro buses, including transfers multiple times a day.

Where can I go to get more information?

Learn more about the Center for Behavioral Health and Learning. You can also email PJ Simmons ( with additional questions or suggestions.