Kern Supervisors Approve Two New Mental Health Facilities | New


The Kern County Board of Directors has approved the construction of two mental health facilities that authorities say will help counter an increase in the number of people seeking treatment.

Still in an early phase of the process, the unanimous board vote on Tuesday allows the Kern County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services to seek design companies and funding for the facilities, which would add 32 beds to the county. by Kern.

While the facilities will not dip into funds controlled by the Oversight Council, the facilities are expected to cost around $ 25.5 million in state and federal funds. Private psychiatric providers, Good Samaritan Hospital and Bakersfield Behavioral Health Hospital spoke out against the new facilities on Tuesday, saying they could increase capacity at a lower cost to the taxpayer.

“Unfortunately, I think we are a little foolish and not looking for the ripple effects,” said Dr Mandeep Bagga of Good Samaritan Hospital.

One of the main concerns of local providers is that the county’s new facilities could reduce the demand for private psychiatric services. However, officials at Kern Behavioral Health said they expected the need for mental health services to increase beyond what could be addressed at the proposed sites.

“I don’t see this as something where we take business away. I see this because we are part of the solution to anticipate the growing needs that we have, ”Supervisor Zack Scrivner said at Tuesday’s meeting.

In addition to approving the two new facilities, supervisors also provided $ 4.5 million in public funds to flood departments for homeless awareness from July this year to June 2024. With the funds, the county will continue a program that increases the ability of homeless people to access behavioral health services.

Some of the target populations will include those whose mental health issues prevent them from seeking refuge in established homeless shelters due to “overstimulating” environments.

“We’re just trying everything and everything to see what works and how it works and how it can be improved,” said Director of Behavioral Health Stacy Kuwahara.

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You can also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

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