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Crisis Stabilization Center renamed to honor longtime social worker

Center’s services seek to promote mental health, reduce incarceration

A woman in a black puffy jacket and sunglasses stands next to a sign that reads "Whatcom County Washington."
Anne Deacon, right, watches Whatcom County Council member Barry Buchanan speak at the name reveal ceremony of the Anne Deacon Center for Hope on Jan. 4. The county named the crisis stabilization center after Deacon to honor her for her long career serving the community as a mental health specialist. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Jenelle Baumbach News Intern

Whatcom County celebrated the distinctive career of social worker Anne Deacon Wednesday by renaming the Crisis Stabilization Center to the Anne Deacon Center for Hope. 

The 32-bed treatment center offers services for all adults in Whatcom County. The triage and stabilization center serves those that need assistance in recovering from a mental health crisis, while the detox center provides monitored care for those detoxing from substance abuse. 

As a former human services manager for Whatcom County, Deacon had noted a need to address the scarce availability of mental health and addiction services, as well as an overreliance on the use of law enforcement for people who were struggling.  

The center opened in January 2021 through a $13 million expansion project. The previous Crisis Stabilization Center had half the capacity the current center has. 

Deacon played an instrumental role in the process of refurbishing the center, as she worked to identify the type of programming necessary to create a proper system of care. 

photo  Dozens of community leaders and mental health workers stand outside the recently named Anne Deacon Center for Hope during the name reveal ceremony. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

Working with the Whatcom County Council, state legislators and other state and regional agencies, Deacon advocated for an expanded center and garnered support for its services. 

“[Deacon] was so involved in every detail to make sure that this was a supportive, therapeutic place where people can recover,” said Erika Lautenbach, director of the Whatcom County Health Department, to the crowd of attendees. 

During Wednesday’s event, speakers continued to recognize Deacon’s career and impact on mental health care in the community. 

“I think it’s important to note that this building is named after Anne not because of just this building and her work here, but the many contributions she’s had for our community over the last 15 years,” Lautenbach said. 

The health department’s human services division manages the Ground Level Response and Coordinated Engagement (GRACE) program, and Deacon regularly worked on Whatcom County’s Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force.

Alleviating issues with limited capacity within the Anne Deacon Center for Hope has created temporary alternatives to incarceration for people struggling with mental health and/or addiction.  

“The hope is that if we interact with people in crisis, we can take them to this facility where they can get some stabilization with some housing, and also the medical treatment they need,” said Doug Chadwick, Whatcom County undersheriff.  

Deacon said people experiencing a crisis could be diverted from jail or arrest and placed in this facility for up to 12 hours. 

Since its opening, the center has strived to ensure its resources are utilized, such as increasing accessibility, Deacon said. 

“If [treatment] doesn’t work the first time, it doesn’t mean it won’t work the second or third time,” Deacon said. “Treatment does work and everyone should have access to the care they need.” 

This story was updated at 4:41 p.m. Jan. 10 to clarify the manager of the GRACE program. 

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