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County Supervisors OK New Mental Health Facility In Hillcrest

The dilapidated County property at 4307 Third Avenue in Hillcrest in this und...

Credit: Office of County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher

Above: The dilapidated County property at 4307 Third Avenue in Hillcrest in this undated photo was approved as the site for a new mental health facility.

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When completed, the Central Region Behavioral Health Hub will offer multiple services like crisis stabilization, inpatient and intensive outpatient care to ensure patients regain stability.

Aired: October 30, 2019 | Transcript

In what was praised as a major collaborative effort, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a behavioral health facility in Hillcrest, as part of a greater regional program.

When completed, the Central Region Behavioral Health Hub will offer multiple services like crisis stabilization, inpatient and intensive outpatient care — via partnerships with long-term behavioral and mental healthcare facilities — to ensure patients regain stability.

According to county documents, the project has a one-time cost of $110 million to $115 million.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher on Monday announced that county-owned property was deemed feasible as the site for a behavioral health facility.

Fletcher first proposed redeveloping the dilapidated property at 4308 Third Ave. into a behavioral health center in March, and the county has been conducting a feasibility study since then.

"The Board of Supervisors today voted to accept the feasibility report on the Central Behavioral Health Hub and in favor of proceeding with advancing partnership discussions with UC San Diego Health and Scripps Health," Fletcher said. "This model of care is envisioned to co-locate a range of mental health and substance abuse services at a single facility to service people in need. The hub will continue us down the path to creating a coordinated, integrated, regional behavioral health system."

The 7.24-acre parcel of land has been vacant for roughly 10 years and was once a potential site for a luxury apartment complex.

The facility would provide behavioral health support from UC San Diego Health and Scripps Health through a partnership with San Diego County.

Fletcher said he hopes to have a final agreement between the county, UCSD Health and Scripps Health in place by January to begin the process of building the facility.

Luke Bergmann, the county's director of Behavioral Health, said the vote could also lead to future partnerships on other facilities, helping the county move from crisis-driven to chronic care.

He said Palomar Health is working on a facility in Escondido, with the goal of having it operational in five years, while Rady Children's Hospital is also working to increase crisis stabilization services for children near its hospital campus.

Supervisors praised the creation of a new facility. Supervisor Kristin Gaspar said she was "extremely proud of the collaboration in this room today," adding the region is ready for more similar private-public efforts.

Supervisor Jim Desmond said in terms of mental health care, a lot has happened in the last year, starting with the county's regional workshop lead by Gaspar. Desmond he would like to see more residential facilities for people just released from hospitalization.

"We want to make that path easier to treatment and care, rather than the path to addiction and jail," he added.

Patty Maysent, CEO of UCSD Health, described the Hillcrest facility as a "game-changer."

"We have the opportunity to do something really extraordinary," she added. "It wouldn't be happening without a partnership requiring all of us to have skin the game."

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