LAKEWOOD—The House Health Care & Wellness Committee voted Wednesday to advance two pieces of legislation by freshman Representative Dan Bronoske, HB 1276 and HB 1311. The bills work in tandem to grow the substance use disorder professional workforce, and to better equip them to carry out their lifesaving work.
“Washington was already experiencing a devastating opioid crisis, and social isolation during the pandemic has exacerbated the problem in our communities. People with substance use disorder are disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Bronoske.
He continued, “Public health requirements for staying home have helped stop the spread of the virus, but that social isolation has led to an increase in substance use.”
HB 1276 would allow emergency medical services personnel to work in diversion centers that offer short-term shelter to individuals experiencing behavior health or substance use disorders. These centers steer people away from emergency rooms and the criminal justice system in favor of treatment and recovery services. Emergency services personnel can provide initial treatment and evaluation, and if there is an emergency, provide emergency care until the local fire department or others can respond.
“Diversion centers bring innovative efforts to address behavioral health needs and keep individuals in the most appropriate settings,” said Bronoske.
HB 1311 allows persons participating in authorized apprenticeship programs to qualify for substance use disorder professional certification.
Noting that the need for substance use disorder professionals continues to grow, Rep. Bronoske added, “With new opportunities coming soon to train these professionals, like the new University of Washington Behavioral Health Teaching Facility opening in the next couple years, this bill is one more tool to quickly get these professionals working in our communities.”