Chinatown ID crisis center an alternative to jail or ER


Bill Hobson, executive director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center, shows off 16 cubicle-style beds during a tour of Seattle’s new Crisis Diversion Center, which will open to clients Monday.

On Monday(August 6), a 16-bed facility designed for adults experiencing a mental-health crisis, including those accused of minor crimes, will open near Seattle’s Chinatown International District.

By Jennifer Sullivan
Seattle Times staff reporter

A mentally ill man is wandering around Seattle’s Pioneer Square, mumbling to himself. He’s been accused of stealing a candy bar from a nearby convenience store.

For Seattle police, the options for dealing with the man are few. They can book him into the King County Jail, where he’ll be housed in the facility’s mental-illness/suicide ward. Or they can have him admitted into an already overcrowded Harborview Medical Center.

Either option, says King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, will yield the same result: The man soon will return to the streets and back to his cycle of mental illness.

But on Monday, a 16-bed facility designed for adults in King County who are experiencing a mental-health crisis, including those accused of minor crimes, will open near the Chinatown International District. The Crisis Diversion Center will give police and paramedics a place to bring people where they can connect with mental-health experts and services and receive medications.

FULL STORY

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