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Spokane behavioral health program expands, moves to larger facility

Liam Stretch (pink shirt) with his mother Stephanie say Providence's BEST program has improved Liam's ability to manage his anxiety and improved their family life.
Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
Liam Stretch (pink shirt) with his mother Stephanie say Providence's BEST program has improved Liam's ability to manage his anxiety and improved their family life.

A behavioral health program for children in Spokane is expanding and moving from side of town to another.

Susan Stacey, the CEO of Providence Health in Spokane, announced Thursday that the company’s BEST program, for Behavior and Educational Skills Training, is moving from Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital to near Holy Family Hospital.

“The space is new, the program is not. Our BEST program has been in place for nearly 30 years and I have to tell you, the space looked like it. I just have to be honest. It was small. It didn’t have the ability to have small groups in ways that kept ages connected and it was old," she said.

The new facility includes a classroom, a space where children can play sports, such as pickleball, and themed rooms where kids and their families can have therapy sessions.

“Our community has a huge need around mental health, around the care of children and breaking the cycle early on with early intervention to heal our community in mental health," Stacey said.

She says the new space allows BEST to expand. It is adding six people to its current staff of six and doubling the number of children it serves, from 12 to 24. It will also begin accepting seven-year-olds, in addition to 8-to-12-year-olds. BEST accepts children who are referred from local schools and it has a waiting list.

One of its recent graduates is 12-year-old Liam Stretch. He finished the four-to-six week program in June. His mother, Stephanie, says it helped her son, who has autism and ADHD, develop ways to deal with his anxiety.

“Not only could he have a chance to self-regulate when he was feeling overwhelmed, but that my husband and I could recognize those behaviors. ‘Oh, he’s focusing on his breathing. Something is bothering him,'" she said. "And then we could take the cue to go up to him, let him calm down, and go up to him and say, ‘What about this situation has you upset? What’s going on? What do we need to change in this situation to make things better?’ And that has helped tremendously.”

The program’s renovation, move and expansion were funded by government grants, including $1.75 million from the state of Washington, and donations from the Providence Foundation.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.