In the early 1930s, a husband and wife pair of psychiatric aides opened Fairfax Hospital, naming it for a street in the neighborhood. Ownership of the hospital has changed hands several times since then, but in 85 years Fairfax Hospital has become the largest private inpatient psychiatric hospital in Washington State. For men and women struggling with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress, Fairfax Hospital offers short-term acute care, including detox. The goal of this program is to stabilize the symptoms of mental illness in order to successfully address the client’s chemical dependency.
Accommodations and Food
Some 20 years after its inception, Fairfax Hospital moved from Seattle to a bigger facility across Lake Washington. This might sound like a long way, but the Hospital is really only a 30-minute drive on the 405 Highway from downtown Seattle. Fairfax Hospital is located in suburban Kirkland, surrounded by houses, office buildings and
Clients in the co-occurring disorder program live in a mixed gender unit with 20 to 30 people. No private rooms are available, but by luck of the draw, a client might have a room to themselves for a night or so, but typically clients have one to two roommates who all share a bathroom. It’s suggested that clients bring a week’s worth of clothes because the duration of treatment is so short, laundering services aren’t available.
Meals are served buffet-style in the cafeteria three times a day. Clients in detox who may be unable to go to the cafeteria for health reasons are served meals in their unit. Healthy snacks are provided during the day. Clients are allowed to bring up to $25 in cash to use at the vending machines.
Treatment and Staff
The program lasts only seven days but Fairfax Hospital packs a lot into a week. Detox can last anywhere from one to seven days, depending on the client and the history of abuse; services are available for alcohol, benzodiazepines (like Valium, Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin) and opioids (heroin, Oxycodone and OxyContin). When necessary, clients are given oral medications to manage the discomfort of withdrawal.
Within the first 24 hours, clients meet with a psychiatrist to determine their mental state and what medications might be appropriate for treating any presenting conditions. As clients start to stabilize, they begin to participate in the treatment phase of the program. While the program is group-oriented, clients do see a psychiatrist and a therapist for individual therapy several times during their week.
Clients begin and end the day with a community meeting of their peers. Community is about checking in and getting grounded, as opposed to daily group therapy meetings which are didactic and discussion-based. Some groups are psychoeducational, where clients learn about the disease of addiction. Other groups have to do with building interpersonal techniques and stress tolerance. Another group on emotional regulation and mindfulness reinforces grounding skills. Group topics include grief and loss, denial and defense mechanisms, shame and guilt, and anger management. Clients are also educated about health and nutrition, as well as how to build coping mechanisms for early sobriety.
Fairfax Hospital is usually close to capacity, so the client-to-staff ratio is typically about eight-to-one. Staff members work together as an interdisciplinary team: psychiatrists, nurses, clinical therapists, drug and alcohol counselors, certified therapeutic recreation specialists and a dietician.
Despite the brevity of the program, family members are encouraged to visit clients and get involved in the recovery process by taking part in family therapy and family support groups, hosted at the hospital on Tuesday nights from 7 pm to 8:30 pm.
Not surprisingly, aftercare planning is part of the program at Fairfax Hospital; before clients leave treatment, they each meet with a discharge planner to look into options for further residential services or outpatient care.
A stay at Fairfax Hospital is really for clients who are in crisis and need immediate, acute care and dual diagnosis support. This facility, however, does have the resources to connect its clients with facilities that provide long-term inpatient and outpatient care so that medication can continue to be adjusted and clients can continue developing the skills they will need to navigate their lives clean and sober.
10200 NE 132nd St
Kirkland, WA 98034
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