Benton and Franklin County Commissioners agree to hire consultan - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton and Franklin County Commissioners agree to hire consultant to oversee development of behavioral health services

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In the next two to three weeks, the team of local professionals should be recommending the board of commissioners with a person for the consultant position. In the next two to three weeks, the team of local professionals should be recommending the board of commissioners with a person for the consultant position.

KENNEWICK, WA- After a few months hiatus, all six Benton and Franklin County Commissioners made their way to the commissioners board room in Kennewick to talk about the future of behavioral health care.

Over the last 8 weeks, a team of local mental health professionals have been collecting ideas and discussing what they believe is the best route for our future public healthcare system. Both counties made a motion to hire a consultant that will lean on those local providers to essentially reorganize and create a road map for the coming years.

As of 2020, if the system is not designed locally, the state may have a chance to step in and take over.

"Everything we know is the earlier we help out in that arena (mental health) the better. Last night we were at Maya Angelou Elementary in Pasco and we had 30 of the most dedicated elementary teachers there until 7 p.m. listening to our signature program on parents and teachers as allies. They see it in their classrooms, they see the struggles with mental illness," explained Fred Yapuncich, President of NAMI Tri-Cities.

As for funding, it looks like it could just be more of a matter of reallocation rather than trying to find money. The new federal healthcare system also provides more Medicaid money.

"I think a couple other factors to consider are, as we go forward with whatever plan we do, is the simplification for the clients to navigate the system and have clarity of how to move through," John Serle, CEO at Lourdes Health Network said.

The commissioners and their guests focused on prevention, intervention and housing. By April of this year, mental health and chemical dependency services will also be merging.

In the next two to three weeks, the team of local professionals should be recommending the board of commissioners with a person for the consultant position.

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