Finally, there’s good news for mental health workers in Santa Barbara.

talk about time That same week a 20-year-old man jumped off the Cold Spring Bridge, which had been fenced in years ago to prevent such an incident. County supervisors received an update on the status of the county’s Psychiatric Health Facilities (PHF), lockdowns, facilities licensed to treat individuals who pose a threat to themselves or other people The tone of the report is upbeat and indeed good news, though. But the overall picture remains mixed and the impact remains unclear.

First, the good news: In the final inspection by the state auditor, no problems were found related to the nursing home’s environment, according to Toni Navarro, head of Behavior Wellness. The auditor told her this was the first time. In his career he had said such things. She said the words he used were exemplary. Supervisors praised the kindness among PHF’s doctors and administrators, especially given the stressful conditions in which they work. There are mistakes and glitches everywhere, said Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who serves on PHF’s governing board. The next case is always two minutes away. Lavagnino, who was a Republican until Donald old Trump-elect claims PHF is the ultimate rebuttal to those who argue that government should be run more like a business. This will be about the last business you ever did, he said.

But the fact remains. As Supervisor Joan Hartmann noted: Given the federally-imposed size limit on PHFs of no more than 16 beds, the county has been unserved for a long time. In 2016, the previous PHF administrator Estimate Santa Barbara needs at least 40 PHF beds. This shortage has been the subject of several grand jury reports over the past 25 years.

As a result, long-time mental health advocate Lynne Gibbs charged that PHF beds are so heavily rationed that Santa Barbara County is the only county in the state where law enforcement officials cannot or will not leave. 5150 findings for people considered to be a threat to themselves or others. She said too often, law enforcement officers find themselves forced to book people with serious mental illnesses into county jails to keep them safe Gibbs spoke from personal experience with her own daughter. She said that life can be saved when living in the PHF area.

When it comes to admissions and overnight stays at PHF over the past four years. The figure is not yet clear. This is partly due to Covid-induced encroachment on involuntary housing facilities. When concluded Total admissions decreased from 489 to 337 and total bed nights decreased from 5,541 to 4,677.

Navarro’s interpretation of the good news, according to Behavioral Wellness, is that Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria has opened a Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) that provides 24-hour respite for people in severe distress. In its first year, Navarro said. Noting that Marian treats 330 patients in their CSU, Navarro added that About half of those eligible were prescribed 5150 and stabilized after 24 hours.

Santa Barbara County opened CSU on the South Shore about 10 years ago with a capacity of up to eight patients, and it saw noticeably little utilization. Few law enforcement officials knew it was even there. It’s not a locked place. and are faced with ongoing staffing challenges. In short, it’s a bust.

From January next year, CSU South Coast will open again. But operated by a private contractor whose identity has not yet been revealed, it will be locked if all goes according to current hopes and prayers. It would probably help reduce the need for 5,150 beds.

On the other hand, the shortage of 5,150 beds in PHF remains insufficient.

The county has been forced to farm five patients per day to acute care facilities elsewhere in the state. But one of those destinations was Vista del Mar in Ventura County until it was banned from involuntary admissions in October. Because there are many chronic problems The worst was the release of a patient on the orders of a psychiatrist who suffocated and dismembered his mother.

Vista del Mar is the only facility accepting 5,150 minors, as Vista del Mar is currently restricted indefinitely. Relatives of loved ones in need of acute care must travel far outside the county to visit and stay in touch. This is a key component in most rehabilitation systems.

The good news is that there is reason to hope that the federal government might license county PHFs to treat up to 20 patients at any given time. This compares to the current limit of 16 patients. The potential process is complicated and slow, but as of Oct. 20, the state Department of Health Services filed a petition with the federal government requesting an exemption from the 16-bed rule, a limit that was enacted decades ago. To prevent the storage of large institutions that cause terror in Hollywood movies, for example. shock corridor.

In the meantime, however, two-thirds to three-quarters of PHF cases in Santa Barbara do not fit the profile of people who pose a threat to themselves or others. But they are individuals with chronic and long-term mental health challenges and precious few places in the state or county. Many are seniors or are commuting there. Supervisor Hartmann noted that if Santa Barbara’s elderly population doubles in the next five to seven years, As she said This population can place a significant strain on the county’s limited mental health infrastructure.

Now that the county is exploring grand plans to combine the office buildings and numerous land holdings in the county with land owned by Calle Real, Gibbs is urging supervisors to give serious thought to creating long-term mental health beds. New place As the governor pushes a $6.4 billion ballot measure in March To build housing for homeless people with mental illnesses, she said the timing may have been coincidental. She added that it would be foolish to not prepare.

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