Supervisors Delay Approval of Mental Health Facilities After Two Hospitals Raise Concerns | News


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A proposal to build two new mental health facilities has been delayed again after concerns arose the county could spend money where it isn’t needed.

The Kern County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services were hoping to get the green light from the board of supervisors on Tuesday for the estimated $ 25.5 million project, but objections from two local health care companies have called into question l whole company.

The issue is whether Kern County’s psychiatric treatment facilities have reached capacity, which would limit treatment options for residents facing mental health crises.

The behavioral health department says the county has reached the point where more beds need to be built. The department reported that its four facilities have experienced a demand increase of more than 20 percent over the past three years. Of particular concern are the treatment capacities of people between the ages of 16 and 20, for whom the county has struggled to find beds.

“There aren’t enough acute care beds in California and we want to try and fix this problem for our county,” said Bill Walker, director of the behavioral health department, said Tuesday.

The two new facilities in the department would contain at least 16 beds each and serve both minors and adults.

However, Good Samaritan Hospital and Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital opposed the project, questioning the county’s need for additional facilities.

“Everyone in the country and in the state, everywhere, is recommending increasing funding for places that will reduce hospitalizations and the need for hospitalizations, not spending more money on creating hospital beds. “said Dr Mandeep Bagga of Good Samaritan Hospital. See you on Tuesday.

Jeff Chinn, CEO of Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, said his White Lane facility regularly has 30 to 35 beds for mental health patients. While the hospital won’t necessarily schedule enough staff to cover these beds at all times, Chinn added that a partnership with the Behavioral Health Department could potentially resolve the county’s capacity issues faster than building two new ones. buildings.

“As a resident of Kern County myself and a taxpayer, I would just like to ask that we look at other ways to meet the need rather than spending this money,” he said.

Faced with these objections, the supervisors appeared divided. Supervisor Mick Gleason brought forward a motion to approve the construction, but a vote was never called because his colleagues refused to offer a second.

Supervisor Leticia Perez said she felt torn and confused about the issue, and other supervisors expressed a desire to have more questions answered before the project moved forward.

The behavioral health department has been working on the two buildings for three years and has already purchased the necessary land on Workman Street. Supervisors delayed approval in September, saying they needed more time to review project details and hear from the public.

Originally slated for completion by the end of 2022, the project would bring 76 jobs to the county. But for now, it is not certain that he will move forward.

“I think (supervisors) wanted better answers on existing capacity with existing vendors and is there a role for a public-private partnership,” said Jeff Flores, chief of staff to supervisor Mike Maggard on Wednesday. . “I think it’s on hiatus right now.”

Sam Morgen can be reached at 661-395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @smorgenTBC.

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