Benton Franklin Mental Health Transition Meeting Sparks Lots of Emotion - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton Franklin Mental Health Transition Meeting Sparks Lots of Emotion

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - People from all sides of the issue attended a meeting Monday night about the current Benton Franklin Mental Health contract controversy.

Sunderland's contract was recently not renewed by county commissioners.  It has been recommended that three local agencies, Nueva Esperanza Counseling Center, Catholic Family & Child Service, and Lourdes Counseling Center take control of health services.

Some Sunderland patients spoke-out about the change and expressed concerns about meeting with new therapists, prescriptions, and housing situations.

The Director of Department of Human Services, Carrie Huie-Pascua, said it is time to get the ball rolling with the transition.  

Under the current recommendation Sunderland patients would have to seek professional mental health treatment from three other local agencies by September 30th.  However, it is likely an extension will be put into place.

Some patients are concerned about the move and many Sunderland supporters said the fight is not over.  Sunderland Attorney Tim Coleman said they are in the process of appealing the decision.

At Monday nights meeting mental health leaders got together to put forth some ideas about how to make this transition as smooth as possible. 

Leaders said they would like current therapists to work very closely with their clients to easy them into the changes. 

The meeting was mostly for the Benton Franklin Mental Health Advisory Committee to express ideas and concerns.  There are about 700 patients that will be affected by the change.