Compass Health in the News: Spotlight on our COVID response, law enforcement partnerships and more

As a community behavioral health organization, we’re always looking for ways to share our insights and resources with those we serve. This month, we’re proud to announce that Compass Health has been featured in several local media outlets, where we discuss everything from our COVID-19 response and tips for mental health and wellness, to our partnership with local law enforcement and updates on our Broadway Campus Redevelopment project. Read on for excerpts from a range of recent coverage:

Partnership with the Skagit Valley Sheriff’s Office

Challenging times mean that our partnerships are more important than ever. We’re excited to share that we’ve recently piloted an embedded clinician program with the Skagit Valley Sheriff’s Office with the goal of providing the appropriate response for mental health-related dispatches. Read more about how our model is changing the shape of community relationships.

Skagit Valley Herald: Sheriff’s Office adds mental health clinicians

Detective Anne Weed, who developed the positions in conversations with Compass Health Program Manager Marla Johns, said approaching those in crisis on a personal level will help them get the treatment they need.

“They don’t need to go to jail, they need help,” Weed said.

Weed said she started working on the new positions with Johns in January, after seeing that existing practices weren’t adequately serving this community.

In the past, deputies have given those in crisis a phone number to call to get connected with services, but Johns said they called less than a third of the time.

Johns, who oversees the county’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, said having a mental health clinician on scene will improve the chances that someone in crisis gets the help they need.

“If nothing else, they’ll know someone in the community cares about them,” she said.

Read the full article here.

KSVR FM – Radio: Mental Health Clinicians Riding with Skagit County Sheriff’s Deputies

A conversation with Skagit County Sheriff’s Department’s Detective Ann Reed and Marla Johns from COMPASS mental health about having ride along Mental Health Clinicians.

Listen to the full episode here.

KUOW / KNKX – Radio: Crisis clinicians ride along with Skagit deputies in latest example of reimagining policing

In a newly launched pilot project, civilian mental health crisis responders are riding alongside Skagit County, Washington, sheriff’s deputies on 911 calls. It’s the latest example of reimagining policing in the Pacific Northwest.

Skagit County Sheriff’s Office Detective Anne Weed broached the idea for a partnership months before the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police ignited the national debate about reform. Weed said two existing mental health clinicians from Compass Health are now being “embedded” with regular patrol deputies. They get assigned the 911 calls involving people acting out who may have mental health problems or addiction issues.

Read the full article and listen to the full episode here.


COVID Trends and Response

Like the rest of the world, we’ve never faced anything quite like COVID-19. Fortunately, our organizational leaders and partners quickly adapted to ensure we could continue to help those in need. From the implementation of our telehealth system, Compass Health Bridge, to the rapid response of our crisis teams, we’ve continued to provide innovative solutions and keep pace with growing needs as a crucial part of the community safety net.

KOMO News: Spike in anxiety, depression expected as COVID-19 pandemic pushes through winter

“This is very widespread in our community,” said Tom Sebastian, President and CEO of Compass Health. “It really is, all our neighbors, it’s our students, it’s our seniors, it’s an amazing breath of impact from the pandemic.”

As coronavirus cases potentially skyrocket this winter, mental health experts are anticipating a spike in people experiencing anxiety and depression.

Already, some mental health providers are inundated with patients seeking treatment.

Watch and read the full report here.

The Journal of the San Juan Islands: Addressing alcohol addiction amid a global pandemic

“We know isolation exacerbates addiction,” Compass Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Camis Milam said.

Compass Health has inpatient and outpatient services for those with mental health or substance abuse issues for those of all ages. As the chief medical officer, Milam works with the Friday Harbor Compass Health office as well as their other offices across the region. She explained that after a disaster, a hurricane, for example, people gather to check in with one another and help those in need. COVID does not allow for that. Although people have been sending messages of strength and unity, the lack of physical connection is difficult. As the crisis drags from one month to six, people often lose hope. As despair kicks in people who may not have had a serious drinking problem begin to develop issues.

Read the full article here.

Bellingham Herald: CDC finds 40% of adults report COVID-19 mental health issues. There’s help in Whatcom.

Compass Health, which primarily serves Medicaid eligible individuals in five northwest Washington counties, saw a 750% increase in the number of services they provide via telehealth in Whatcom County, Sebastian said.

Nowadays, most of their clients primarily use telehealth for outpatient therapy, he said. To make this transition, the organization had to train 500 clinicians organization-wide in April, he added.

We have a very high-quality visual telehealth platform that sits on Zoom,” Sebastian said. “It allows any of our clinicians from anywhere they are on any device they have to provide a service to any community member in Whatcom County that we’re serving on any device they have.”

Read the full article here.

HealthPayerIntelligence: Payer-Provider Partners Tap Telehealth for Behavioral Health Access

Lockdown orders, social distancing guidelines, and patient fear of contracting COVID-19 decreased patient volumes. So CHPW and Compass partnered to think creatively about the sustainability of reimbursement.

“We see clearly isolation can be a trigger for behavioral health challenges. Substance use disorder experiences are spiking. And we’re working hard to figure out how to respond to that new demand,” Sebastian continued. “Some of that may be making sure patients have good access to the care we provide.”

To encourage care and maintain patient and provider safety throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CHPW supported their providers in leveraging solutions that emphasize full-person care.

Read the full article here.

Skagit Valley Herald: Pandemic has pushed demand for behavioral health services 

Brandon Foister and Amy Pereira, who work in crisis care with behavioral health services provider Compass Health, said they’ve also seen an uptick in calls from those who have never sought help before.

As director of crisis response and stabilization and of Whatcom outpatient services, Foister oversees the team of mental health professionals who can respond to those in crisis anywhere in the region.

Compass’ crisis responses are up about 13% during the pandemic, compared to the same period last year, he said.

Read the full article here.

Mental Health Resources

We’re committed to sharing our resources to help you take care of your mental health and wellness, especially during challenging times. Read on for some of our top recommendations about how to stay healthy, and the best ways to reach out if you need help.

The Bellingham Herald – Video: How to maintain positive mental health during COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Camis Milam, chief medical officer of Compass Health in Washington state, talks Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, about how people can check in on friends and family and maintain positive mental and emotional health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the full video here.

KING 5 TV: Mental health resources to use if you are in crisis or just need a helping hand

You are not alone! The team at Premera Blue Cross compiled this comprehensive list of local and national crisis and mental health resources to help you get whatever kind of support you need starting today. The volunteers and organizations on this list are there to help you when you call. They WANT you to call. Reach out for yourself, your friends, and your family when you need a helping hand. We all need help and support from time to time! 

Compass Health: Serves people of all ages with comprehensive mental health treatment, crisis prevention and intervention, supportive housing, children’s services, community education, and much more.

Read the full article here.


Broadway Campus Redevelopment Topping Out

Finally, we recognize that permanent supportive housing is more important than ever, and we’re fortunate that work continues to progress on phase one of our Broadway Campus Redevelopment project. Read more about how this 82-unit facility will help address the urgent needs of our community.


A permanent supportive housing facility in downtown Everett is a step closer to welcoming tenants. The 82-unit facility will provide permanent housing for people with substance use and mental health challenges, as well as those transitioning back into the community from Western State Hospital. The building is slated to open sometime next year.

Watch the full clip here.

Daily Journal of Commerce: Supportive housing project topped out

Compass Health on Monday topped out a building with 82 permanent supportive apartments for people experiencing homelessness or chronic behavioral health challenges at 3301 Lombard Ave. in downtown Everett.

Read the full article here.

Snohomish Tribune: Compass Health completes Permanent Supportive Housing phase of Broadway Campus redevelopment project

On Sept. 24, Compass Health announced the topping out of the first phase of its Broadway Campus Redevelopment project, marking an important milestone on the way to bringing 82 new units of permanent supportive housing to the community. Leaders and crews ceremonially placed the final structural beam in the facility designed to help relieve the critical need for housing that has been exacerbated by health and economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read full article here.

Get In Touch

Compass Health is here to help. Whether you have questions about our services, want to share your feedback or a success story, have a media inquiry, or are seeking more information on a training or job opportunity, contact us today for assistance and support.

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