October 16, 2018
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(408) 299-5050 office
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TO HELP KIDS IN CRISIS CLOSE TO HOME
On Tuesday the Board of
Supervisors approved a $222 million state-of-the-art behavioral health facility
that will house the first County-run inpatient psychiatric services for
children and adolescents — “a critically needed part of the continuum-of-care
for kids in crisis,” said Board President Joe Simitian.
“On any given day 20 Santa Clara County
children are being hospitalized for psychiatric emergencies outside the County,
some as far away as Sacramento,” said Simitian, who has pushed for the past
four years to add inpatient care to the youth-focused mental health services in
the County. “It's better therapeutically for these
kids to be close to their community when they’re in crisis — close to
their family, their friends, and their own local mental health providers.”
“Separating these kids from
their families at one of the toughest times in their lives, that's just hell on
them. I’m also worried
that the specter of long distance treatment could deter kids and families from
seeking the help they need in the first place,” said Simitian.
The limited psychiatric hospital
capacity for children under age 18 led the Board to approve a motion by
Simitian in November, 2017, directing County Administration to prepare
construction and operational plans for a Child and Adolescent Acute Inpatient Psychiatric
Facility on the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center campus in San Jose.
“This is about teens at risk
of doing damage to themselves or others. This is about families struggling
through the hardest thing they'll ever face, and being torn apart at precisely
the time they need to be together,” said Simitian. “This goes to the heart of
community health and wellness.“
County staff’s recommendation, developed with input from a variety of community
stakeholders, was to replace a disparate set of mental health services at the
medical center with a new two-story building that will include 24 beds for
children and adolescents in need of acute inpatient psychiatric care (plus 6
for pediatric medical/psychiatric services).
“This has the potential to
serve hundreds and hundreds of families annually, given that the typical
patient stay in such a facility is just six or seven days,” said Simitian.
Four years ago, a constituent alerted
Simitian to the need for youth psychiatric services with a simple question:
“Why aren’t there any inpatient hospital beds for kids and teens in mental
health crisis here in Santa Clara County?”
Simitian was dismayed to learn that each
year, more than 600 young people were transferred from emergency rooms to
hospitals outside the county for acute psychiatric care. If approved on
Tuesday, the new facility will allow children and adolescents to receive the
treatment they need closer to home.
County staff also recommended replacing
the aged adult inpatient facilities by putting new adult inpatient facilities
on the second floor of the new facility, with separate entrances from those
serving children and adolescents.
behavioral health services on the medical center campus include Emergency
Psychiatric Services and Mental Health Urgent Care, in the Don Lowe Pavilion, and Adult Psychiatric
Inpatient Services, in the Barbara Arons Pavilion.
Simitian said he was “surprised, but pleased,” that his initial
referral – which focused on juvenile mental health needs – had also resulted in
what he called “a clearly needed upgrade in facilities for adult mental
The facility, which will replace the nearly 50-year-old Don Lowe Pavilion at a preliminary
estimated cost of $222 million, will include:
- A six-bed Child Inpatient Unit
18-bed Adolescent Inpatient Unit
- A groundbreaking six-bed
pediatric medical/psychiatric inpatient unit
separate 36-bed Adult Inpatient Unit.
- A Mental Health Urgent Care department serving
children/adolescents and adults in separate, but adjoining, suites that
could share resources such as professional staff, support staff, and
Patient and Family Support Center, available pre-or post-acute
hospitalization, offering individual and family therapy, medication
evaluation, peer support, multi-family groups, integration with physical
health services, and pharmacy services.
Psychiatric Services will be relocated to a building with closer proximity to
the Emergency Department.
The new facility
will serve commercially insured, Medi-Cal, and uninsured
individuals. In addition to serving County patients, it is
anticipated that the child/adolescent unit will receive referrals from
Kaiser, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, El Camino and others, as
appropriate, due to the lack of available community resources
and high need for these services.
Staffing for the new facility will be collaborative, using the breadth of community expertise in the mental health field to
provide and connect with a comprehensive safety net, including preventive,
emergency, acute, transitional and long-term mental health services for youth. In addition to County staff, key health partners in providing such
services will likely include Stanford Hospitals, Kaiser Permanente, Uplift Family Services, and El
“This new facility is a
significant capital investment. But we see it as an investment in our kid’s
emotional wellbeing, as well as their futures,” Simitian said. “I’m pleased
that access to quality mental health care, particularly for children and
families in crisis, is a clear priority for our Board.”
Inpatient psychiatric care for County
children and adolescents builds on previous efforts by Simitian
to ensure that youth in the County have access to the mental health services
- Mental health services for teens on Medi-Cal in the
North County through El Camino Hospital’s After-School Program
Interventions and Resiliency Education® (ASPIRE) program.
and approachable early behavioral health care program at the Stanford
Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing (“Headspace,” an innovative
no-wrong-door space for adolescents to seek mental health services).
- The Mountain View-based Community Health Awareness
Council’s “School First” program, utilizing individual, group and family
counseling, teacher training and support, life skills and peer leadership
training to keep North County at-risk kids in school.
- The Youth Connectedness Initiative, led by Youth
Community Services, aimed at providing meaningful connections promoting
youth mental health.