AMFM Healthcare to provide staffing for local Fire CARES programs

In response to the need for more staffing, Poulsbo is moving forward to partner with AMFM Healthcare of Seattle to provide personnel for the city’s and Central Kitsap Fire CARES programs.

Fire CARES is the Poulsbo Fire Department’s mobile health response unit, which launched two years ago, per the city’s website. CARES responds to individuals struggling with behavioral health issues and helps them navigate the situation—whether they need medical attention, mental health care, substance use disorder services or other care.

The city employs two community support specialists to work with both CARES teams, but more are needed, council documents say. The partnership would authorize AMFM to provide a specialist to both teams and a geriatric specialist to accept referrals from Poulsbo CARES. AMFM would be responsible for the training and supervision of those positions.

Angeleena Francis, AMFM executive director, spoke at the Jan. 4 City Council meeting and said it has partnered with jurisdictions in the past for services. In Poulsbo, AMFM already has a therapist providing services at Fishline Food Bank & Comprehensive Services. It has an outpatient program in Seattle and is in the process of expanding to Kitsap County. Francis said there would be enough staff locally to administer the services.

“As these programs grow and our staffing needs increase, I don’t have the capacity or the skillset to properly supervise all these employees,” Housing, Health and Human Services director Kim Hendrickson said. “So frankly from a good governance perspective and liability perspective, I am excited to bring in someone like Angeleena who has a clinical background and has a very well-established and successful agency to help me supervise some of this additional staff and ensure they are properly trained and (receive) the oversight they need.”

The council agreed to redirect $34,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (federal COVID) funding to AMFM to provide Fire CARES staffing. ARPA funds would only be used for the Poulsbo program.

The topic will be placed on the consent agenda for approval at the next council meeting.

Also at the meeting, the city’s building report was presented. In 2022, Poulsbo’s building valuation was $68 million, compared with $49 million in 2021. 464 building permits were issued in 2022 for a total of $11 million. Some of the new commercial projects included The Sophie apartment complex (in progress), Discount Tire (in progress) and Liberty Bank. Looking to this year, 41 single-family permits are ready to be issued and five commercial permits are in the process.

“There’s a lot of land right now ready for building,” Public Works director Diane Lenius said. “Our team is pretty maxed out with all that’s going on. What we’re seeing on the residential side is that developers are indicating that they’re waiting for houses to resell before they start to build more or they want to sell the houses that they have before they start to pick up their remaining permits.”