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Swinomish clinic seeks to expand

December 14, 2018
The didgwálič Wellness Center opened in November 2017.

ANACORTES — A year after the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community opened an addiction treatment center, plans are being made to expand.

John Stephens, programs administrator with the tribe, said he expects that by February the didgwálič Wellness Center will be serving 250 patients, 75 to 80 percent of whom are nontribal.

An expansion of the center will allow it to serve 500 patients.

“For the people seeking services, we hope they see we’re expanding to meet the need,” Stephens said.

The outpatient center on March Point Road also offers primary care, mental health counseling, transportation and child care. With the expansion, Stephens said the tribe would also look to provide dental care.

“We knew the problem was as large as it is, but it was a question of whether patients would present themselves to us for services,” he said.

The tribe has acquired properties adjacent to the center to add treatment space and parking to the facility.

To expand, the tribe needs a conditional use permit from the city of Anacortes.

Don Measamer, planning director for the city, said the tribe acquired a permit when it originally opened the facility, and the process won’t be any different this time.

The tribe will need to hold a neighborhood meeting, which is scheduled for Jan. 15, and get approval from the city Planning Commission and City Council, he said.

Stephens said the tribe is hopeful to start construction by May and be ready for additional patients by June 2020.

Skagit County Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt said that unlike inpatient treatment centers, outpatient facilities such as didgwálič let people keep living and working in the community while seeking treatment.

“I think it’s absolutely critical to see that those outpatient facilities can expand,” he said.

While the tribe is currently seeking to finance the project by itself, Dahlstedt said the county is committed to help it access state and federal funding.

Stephens said the tribe is still working on design and doesn’t yet have a cost estimate.

“It will be multiple millions of dollars,” he said.

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