KIRKLAND, Wash. — When one of Penny Quist's sons started displaying mental health issues, she began seeking help.
"I was reaching out to church, police, his school, taking him to counseling," said the Grant County mother of six.
She also took the guns out of their home.
"My son had both suicidal and homicidal ideations and he came to me with a statement that was very clear that these ideations had come to a heightened state, that he was going to act out on both of them," Quist said.
She took him seriously and he was admitted to Fairfax Behavioral Health in Kirkland. He received care that’s no longer available to kids as of May 16.
The psychiatric hospitals CEO provided the following statement:
"We suspended the inpatient adolescent program, effective May 16, 2022. This allows us to dedicate more beds to serve our adult population, an area of continued and growing need in our community. This change does not affect the school and outpatient programming that we continue to offer for adolescents:
- Northwest School of Innovative Learning at 3 campuses [Redmond, Tacoma, and Olympia], which has delivered over 20,000 student days in the last 12 months serving 45 school districts.
- Fairfax Behavioral Health Outpatient Program, Virtual offerings and day programs, which has delivered over 2,600 visits in the last 12 months."
Quist said parents are already stressed and at their wits end and ending the program is cutting off a resource parents rely on.
"I called number after number trying to find somewhere to help my son," she said. "You've just taken away one of the biggest numbers to call."
The Washington State Department of Health temporarily made Fairfax stop the placement of minors at the hospital in April, citing an unsafe patient environment among other things. After changes were made at the hospital, the state department allowed them to resume adolescent care.
The program's closure is heartbreaking to a mother who understands the heartache of searching for answers.
“We're seeking out help. It's not there, so what do we do? We know and we're looking, so you need to help us and closing down the little hope we have is not the answer,” said Quist.
Quist said her son is doing much better five years since he was at Fairfax. She is currently an advocate for other moms in the state dealing with similar issues and is currently working on legislation to get young people and families the help they need.