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County makes progress with Psychiatric Health Facility
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As the completion of a psychiatric health facility at the Stanislaus Recovery Center in Ceres nears, Stanislaus County will soon be better equipped to address the needs of patients with mental health issues.

Set to open March 1, the psychiatric health facility is currently being constructed at an existing vacant residential facility located at the Stanislaus Recovery Center site in Ceres. According to the County, the location will also provide for co-location to other adjacent drug and alcohol programs.

Last Tuesday, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors authorized the Behavioral Health Director and CEO to submit an application for state funding to additionally establish a Crisis Stabilization Unit adjacent to the coming psychiatric health facility. Providing treatment services for up to four clients at one time, the Crisis Stabilization Unit would allow the County to provide the appropriate lower level of care for individuals in crisis, while reducing the probability of hospitalizations.

The Crisis Stabilization Unit is said to include eight new interview rooms, client reception, client waiting and client treatment rooms within 3,776 square feet. After an evaluation and stabilization process at the unit, clients may be admitted to the psychiatric health facility to undergo further evaluation and counseling services.

According to the County, there are currently no free-standing mental health rehabilitation centers, institutes for mental diseases, psychiatric health facilities, or acute psychiatric hospitals within the county limits.

In 2007, the County sold its 67-bed inpatient acute psychiatric facility, the Stanislaus Behavioral Health Center, to Doctor’s Medical Center of Modesto. Although the County contracts with the now Doctor’s Behavioral Health Center for a minimum of 21 inpatient beds, there are currently no county-owned and operated facilities for acute or sub-acute inpatient psychiatric care. With the opening of the County psychiatric health facility in March, the County will reduce the number of their reserved beds at the Doctors Behavioral Health Center to nine per day.

The daily census of inpatient beds used by patients under the County’s responsibility has increased significantly over the past year to over 40 per day, with nearly 54-percent of clients being uninsured. According to the County, the impact to the community as a result has been no available beds at the Doctors Behavioral Health Center, long waits in local hospital emergency departments, and significant financial burdens on the County.

In 2012, area hospitals and stakeholders began a new relationship focusing on capacity issues and a growing need for psychiatric inpatient services. Identifying both short and long term issues, the group worked to strategically plan ways to secure 24/7 health services and programs within Stanislaus.

On Jan. 7, the County requested local hospitals to support the development and operation of a County Crisis Stabilization Unit, as to avoid hospitalizations when possible. Just two days later, the County had received pledges from Doctor’s Medical Center, Memorial Medical Center and Emanuel Medical Center for $10,000 each toward the operation of the Crisis Stabilization Unit.

“Contributions from local hospitals demonstrate the commitment the County and its local hospital partners have in finding solutions to manage and provide behavioral health crisis services to the community,” said the County in a recent report.

The County will use the letters of support from the local hospitals to help obtain state funding for the Crisis Stabilization Unit, as renovations are currently projected to cost approximately $1.4 million. The estimated preliminary cost of the entire project, including construction and program startup costs, is nearly $2.2 million.

The County Psychiatric Health Facility located at 1904 Richland Ave. in Ceres is set to open on March 1, with full psychiatric inpatient services being provided by Telecare Corporation Inc.