Willapa Behavioral Health
2204 Pacific Highway N., Long Beach
evenings and weekends, 1-800 884-2292
‘Our greatest joy is making people’s lives better.’
— Adam Marquis
new CEO, Willapa Behavioral Health
CEO seeks to broaden services to help more people
By PATRICK WEBB
LONG BEACH — Adam Marquis has landed on the Long Beach Peninsula with a mission.
He wants to elevate the profile of mental health services, broadening awareness of the availability of help.
He joined Willapa Behavioral Health as its chief executive officer in July and is actively refining its operation to offer more preventative services, as well as its traditional mission of helping people in crisis.
“Our goal is to be working for everybody, for couples and families, too,” he said, mentioning one focus of helping people learn to better balance work and home lives.
However, addiction treatment and suicide prevention will remain an important priority. “We have so much opioid use, even 9- and 10-year-olds. We are in a crisis situation.”
Marquis, 38, has a bachelor’s degree in communication-psychology from the University of Maine and a master’s degree in business administration, healthcare management and resource management from Walden University in Minneapolis.
He comes to Southwest Washington from Port Townsend, where he headed Discovery Behavioral Healthcare. Previously, he worked for a health group in Virginia Beach, Va., for United Cerebral Palsy of Maine and as an administrator with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
Willapa Behavioral Health is a private nonprofit organization that has operated in Pacific County since 1986; it provides mental health services and substance abuse help for all ages, from children to seniors. Gambling addiction has recently been added to its umbrella. All its work is confidential.
In the past year, the agency served some 600 clients in areas including:
• Child and family services;
• Adult outpatient services;
• Medical services;
• Crisis intervention, including a hotline;
• Advocacy for consumers;
• Chemical dependency help.
It has 54 staff split between offices in Long Beach and Raymond and more are expected to be hired in coming months, said Lucy Dupree, who directs human resources for the agency. Their credentials include a clinical psychologist and mental health therapists with master’s degrees and other training, some of whom specialize, for example, in assisting children or veterans. Others will be looking to enhance the lives of the Hispanic, Native American and LGBTQ communities. “These are areas that we want to grow into,” said Marquis.
Staff at Willapa come from all over the United States. “These people do care and show a lot of heart,” said Dupree.
She and Marquis are looking to recruit more trained people. “It’s a rewarding career — in fact, it’s a calling,” Marquis said. “Our greatest joy is making people’s lives better.”
He said Washington has come a long way since the 1960s when mentally ill people were almost inevitably incarcerated in state institutions. The move to community-based care sparked by President Kennedy has been paralleled by health professionals embracing the concept of treating the “whole person,” rather than just one ailment.
Refining this trend, state legislators have mandated that agency administrators in Washington work to more fully unite physical and mental health treatment by the year 2020. “I think this integrated model is going to be great for the patient,” Marquis said.
For example, people with mental health issues often seek care for immediate physical problems in the hospital emergency room. By partnering, Willapa staff will lend their expertise to help a client with his or her overall problems. Other areas include making services better known in schools and working with the Pacific County Jail on its diversion program as an alternative to being locked up.
This fall, Marquis and colleagues plan to revamp their help available to assist law enforcement agencies with the creation of a mobile crisis team to aid people in trauma. “That will be a big step forward,” he said.