Washington Healthcare News linkedin facebook twitter
Articles, Jobs and Consultants for the Healthcare Professional
  • wa-lj-mossadams6-022713
  • wa-lj-pia-072514
  • wa-lj-parker-060116

Behavioral Health Director, Bellingham, WA

Unity Care NW


Bellingham, WA

August 9, 2017



Unity Care Northwest (UCNW) (www.ucnw.org)

Position Title: Behavioral Health Director


LuAnn Carlson, Senior Partner
Corporate Strategies & Development, LLC
Phone (425) 828.0128
Email: lcarlson@csdseattle.com

Mary Ellen Walton, Director, Administration & Communication
Email: mewaltoncsdseattle@gmail.com
Phone: (425) 463.5558


Bellingham, WA

Reports To:

Executive Director

Direct Reports:

Integrated BH (IBH) Supervisor, Community Specialty (CSBH) Supervisor

Organization Description/Mission:

Unity Care NW was founded over 30 years ago in response to growing unmet needs for health care. Unity Care NW was created by a coalition of community leaders, health professionals, volunteers, faith-based organizations, and concerned citizens.

With an initial focus on providing triage and referral services for low-income people with no access to basic health care, Unity Care NW has grown in size and scope over time:

  • 1983: Added dental services
  • 1986: Added behavioral health services
  • 2001: Became an independent non-profit organization with its own Board of Directors
  • 2003: Opened new facility in Point Roberts
  • 2007: Designated a Federally Qualified Health Center and licensed mental health facility
  • 2008: Opened new facility in Ferndale
  • 2013: Named non-profit of the year by the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce

Today UCNW is a private, non-profit, federally qualified health center and offers comprehensive primary medical, behavioral health, and dental care, along with pharmacy services at 4 locations in Whatcom County serving a diverse and mostly underserved population of all ages. Employing over 200 caring and compassionate employees, they work to increase the years of healthy life in the patients & communities they serve.

Bellingham is consistently rated as one of the most desirable in the USA! Nestled on Bellingham Bay at the foot of the Cascade Mountains just a short distance from Seattle, Vancouver BC, and the San Juan Islands, Bellingham is home to 80,000 people and surrounded by several charming small towns. Enjoy all the area has to offer:

  • Recreational & Outdoor Activities (Hiking, Biking, Skiing, Snowboarding, Fishing, Sailing, Kayaking, & Camping)
  • Excellent Schools (University, Community College, Technical School, & Outstanding K-12 Educational System)
  • Small Town or City Living (Unique Shops, Local Festivals, Farmers Markets, Berry Picking, & Community Events)
  • Cultural Activities (Theater, Music, Independent Films, Museums, Art Studios, & Diverse Local Restaurants)

Position Purpose & Responsibilities:

Directs the Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) and Community Specialty Behavioral Health (CSBH) / Behavioral Health Organization (BHO) programs and BH staff at Unity Care NW (UCNW) to achieve the Triple Aim of improving achievement of standards of care across the population served, improving the patient experience of care, and reducing the cost of care. Provides comprehensive behavioral health care to a diverse and underserved patient population across the lifespan, the majority with comorbidity or dual diagnoses. In performing this work, the Behavioral Health Director ensures execution of our mission of “Assuring access to high quality affordable health care for all”. Ideally, this position would spend 75% of their time on administrative duties and 25% of their time on clinical duties. Responsible for assuring compliance with grant and contract requirements and all applicable regulations, achievement of program and budgetary goals and objectives, and contributing to the annual and strategic planning of Unity Care NW. UCNW manages patient care using a team-based approach to serve patients and works to be accountable for achievement of organizational goals, objectives and outcomes.

Specific Duties and Responsibilities:


  1. Directs the planning and development of the BH program, assesses clinic plans and program goals, and provides input for the budget process. This includes exploring and implementing effective, alternative therapies such as groups, Qigong, acupuncture, yoga and peer-led programs.
  2. Represents UCNW behavioral health services to other agencies, medical groups, institutions, and the community, as necessary.
  3. Participates in UCNW continuous quality improvement (QI) programs taking leadership for QI initiatives within the behavioral health program.
  4. Assists with grant writing, including planning and development of innovative integrated behavioral health programming.
  5. Coordinates services with other community behavioral health agencies in an effort to maintain a continuum of care and access to services for clinic patients.
  6. Oversees the IBH and CSBH Supervisors to assure management and leadership of the nearly 30 behavioral health staff – selection, training, evaluating, discipline and timely performance reviews.
  7. Collaborates with Medical Director on supervision of Psychiatrists and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners.
  8. Provides clinical supervision, guidance, and mentoring to interns and newer clinicians, including completion of appropriate documentation required for certification and licensure.
  9. Maintains a staffing plan that provides adequate coverage, access and expertise to the clinic.
  10. Develops evidence based practices and programs to help patients change behaviors that adversely affect health.
  11. Establishes and achieves outcome measures for behavioral health services reflecting the Triple Aim of Healthcare.
  12. Works in collaboration with the Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer, and Medical Director on needs assessment and program development.
  13. Monitors departmental budget and manages program to achieve long-term sustainability.
  14. Participates on the Senior Leadership team in developing annual and strategic plans.


  1. As part of the clinical care team, support and closely coordinate behavioral health care with the patient’s primary care provider and other providers treating behavioral health.
  2. Screen and assess patients for common mental health and substance abuse disorders.
  3. Provide patient education about common mental health and substance abuse disorders and available treatment options.
  4. Monitor clients (in person or by telephone) for changes in clinical symptoms and treatment side effects or complications.
  5. Support psychotropic medication management prescribed by PCP’s, focusing on treatment adherence, attention to side effects, and effectiveness/cost of treatment.
  6. Provide brief counseling or psychotherapy using evidence-based techniques such as behavioral activation, motivational interviewing, or other relevant skills.
  7. Provide or facilitate in-clinic or outside referrals to evidence-based psychosocial treatments (e.g. CBT, IPT, PST) as clinically indicated.
  8. Participate in scheduled caseload consultation with the consulting team psychiatrist and communicate resulting treatment recommendations to the patient’s PCP. These consultations will primarily focus on patients who are new to treatment or who are not improving as expected.
  9. Facilitate patient engagement and follow-up in behavioral health care.
  10. Track patient follow-up and clinical outcomes using appropriate data tracking and registry systems (e.g. EMR, ENLI). Document in-person and telephone encounters and use the system to identify and re-engage patients who may be lost to follow-up, are high risk or who are uncontrolled.
  11. Document patient progress and treatment recommendations in so that they can be easily shared with PCPs, the consulting psychiatrist, and other treating providers and/or clinic staff.
  12. Facilitate care plan changes for patients who are not improving as expected in consultation with the PCP and the team psychiatrist. These may include changes in medications or psychosocial treatments or appropriate referrals for additional services.
  13. Facilitate case management, care coordination and/or referrals for clinically indicated services outside the primary care clinic (e.g. social services such as housing assistance, vocational rehabilitation, mental health specialty care, substance abuse treatment).
  14. Complete relapse prevention plans with clients who are in remission.
  15. Participate in training as requested.
  16. Provide ongoing, extended care management and counseling as assigned on a limited basis. This may include addressing legal issues as they arise that involve EMR/chart review and preparation of correspondence.
  17. Provide consultation and support to peers and interns. Supervise interns as assigned.
  18. Maintain appropriate and required standards for the position and state licensure.
  19. Screen, prioritize and facilitate access for patients in need of behavioral health care services.
  20. Lead and facilitate the ongoing development of procedures to promote appropriate BH access and care.
  21. Other duties as assigned.

Search Criteria:


  • Master’s Degree or higher in psychology, counseling or clinical social work.
  • Washington State Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Licensed Independent Social Worker, Licensed Family and Marriage Therapist or Psychologist required, & must qualify as an Approved Supervisor under the Washington State Department of Health’s requirements for supervising license candidates per Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 246-809-234.
  • Current CPR & BLS certification.
  • Mental Health Professional (MHP) acknowledgement or qualifications to be acknowledged as an MHP from the Department of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) required.
  • 5+ years’ direct clinical experience with community health populations, preferably working in an integrated model.
  • 3+ years in behavioral health administration, preferably in a medical clinic setting.
  • 2+ years of experience supervising and mentoring employees, including experience as an Approved Supervisor as defined per WAC 246-809-234.
  • Experience administrating Medicare and Medicaid programs preferred, i.e. the Behavioral Health Organization (BHO) in Washington State or other similar state programs.
  • Demonstrated experience and passion for working with culturally, socio-economic, and ethnically diverse populations--both patients and staff .
  • Superior communication skills and capacity to listen well.
  • Demonstrated success in leading transformational behavioral healthcare initiatives from design through implementation.
  • Superior integrity and proven track record of high ethical behavior.
  • Leadership style that mentors staff and encourages professional growth.
  • Prior proven experience working with electronic medical records.


  • Experience with and/or understanding of the issues facing Community Health Centers and the changing landscape of reimbursement methodologies.
  • Knowledge and experience with substance use disorders and licensure as a Chemical Dependency Professional.

Initial Expectations:

  • Develop strong rapport with peers on UCNW’s leadership team leveraging the strong organizational culture and existing values.
  • Invest in creating a high-performance team within the BH department, working to develop the skills of BH team members.
  • Continue the focus on operational excellence and quality metrics within UCNW and the ongoing initiative of being on the leading edge of an integrated health model.

Personal Traits and Attributes:

  • A dual blend between compelling and visionary leader yet servant attitude that rolls up their sleeves to also assist in executing projects.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and a professional demeanor and presentation.
  • Clearly articulated and internalized passion for the work UCNW does and the people it serves.
  • Demonstrated natural curiosity that ‘asks’ and leverages the strengths of their team before ‘telling’ how to do something.

Compensation Package:

A competitive salary and benefit package commensurate with similar positions in nonprofit community health settings.

See above

See above

See above

Washington Consultants, Attorneys and Vendors for Hospitals and Clinics