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Recruiting behavioral health workers

 August 31, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, August 31st.

San Diego County has a new plan to get more behavioral health workers.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


A bill that would allow qualified nurse practitioners in California to perform first-trimester abortions without a supervising physician is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Senate Bill 1375 was written by Senator Toni Atkins, who represents parts of San Diego County.

Atkins said expanding the number of nurse practitioners who can perform abortions will give more people the ability to get the essential care they need.


State hospital officials are proposing placing a man classified as a sexually violent predator in a home in Jacumba Hot Springs.

According to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office, William Stafford was convicted of numerous sex offenses between 19-68 and 19-90 in San Diego County.

He’s currently housed at Coalinga State Hospital.

A San Diego Superior Court granted his conditional release last year.

A court hearing on the Jacumba placement is scheduled for September 30th.


You’re probably feeling the heat today… and it's expected to be around through Labor Day.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning… and the county’s Office of Emergency Services is telling people to stay in air conditioned spaces if they can.

But some people have to work outside… like mail carrier Edward King.

“Heat stroke can hit you without even knowing it and the problem is it stays with you … Just drink a lot of water, every 15 minutes always drinking water.”

The humidity is expected to be high, making the heat wave even more dangerous.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


Like in many places, rates of mental illness and substance abuse are skyrocketing in San Diego County.

At the same time, the region is facing a shortage of behavioral health workers.

KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman has more on a new plan that aims to close the gap, but with a hefty price tag.

Daniel Enemark, San Diego Workforce Partnership Economist Over the next 5 years we need to recruit more people than currently work in this field. That’s a very very tall order The San Diego Workforce partnership’s chief economist Daniel Enemark helped prepare the behavioral health   report that he calls one of a kind.. It included surveying some 16-hundred behavioral health workers and students.. Results found the majority of the jobs are under-paying. – Enemark This is a problem, we can’t recruit and retain people if we’re not paying them The workforce partnership presented their findings to local providers during a recent behavioral health symposium.. Officials estimate between the private, public and non-profit sector there’s currently 17-thousand behavioral health workers to serve a county of more than 3 million.. Enemark The current behavioral health workforce is meeting a lot of the need but not all of it According to the partnership.. to meet the growing need and replace people leaving the field, about 18-thousand more workers need to be hired in the San Diego region over the next 5 years. That includes peer support specialists, counselors, social workers, psychiatrists and other hospital staff– Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Supervisor I would say no where in America has built out the system of behavioral health care to provide the right care to the right person at the right time and I want San Diego county to be the first Chairman of the San Diego County board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher commissioned the study.. He says no one entity can fix the gap overnight, but many must chip in. Fletcher We’re hoping to not only leverage our friends in philanthropy, to have the county join, to have the state join, we’ll be going to Washington DC to advocate for funding there because we’ve got to develop a system that gets the right person the right care at the right time. And investing in the workforce is a vital component The county has been doing more in recent years .. The last four budget cycles have resulted in a total 230-million dollar increase in behavioral health services… with the overall budget approaching 900 million dollars. For Fletcher, this issue is personal. He says he had a turbulent and traumatic childhood. Then, as a Marine had multiple combat deployments. Fletcher Watched the impact of combat weigh not just on me but on my friends and I know how serious that is but the reality of trauma but it’s not just navy seals, trauam is trauma anyone who survived a sexual assualt who has been in a difficult situation could be experiencing it (could possibly be extended) The county issues contracts to local nonprofits who provide behavioral health services in the region, but some argue that system is outdated and doesn’t keep pace with rising costs of living. Cathryn Nacario, NAMI San Diego CEO Right now the county is allowing us to do hire on bonuses but we also need to do retention bonuses we need to be able to reward the staff who stuck with us, especially during the pandemic Cathryn Nacario is CEO San Diego’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They work with up to 40,000 San Diegans per year … Nacario says some of her staff are leaving the field due to burnout. Nacario Individuals are also leaving for higher paying jobs within the same industry because there’s such a workforce shortage what we’re seeing happening is folks are leaving for 1 or 2 dollars more per hour and literally giving no notice saying hey im going to work for so and so and I’m leaving tomorrow The workforce partnership estimates the price tag for hiring and training 18,000 additional workers would be around 424 million dollars.. They recommend a “down payment” strategy which calls for investing about a third of that to bring on thousands of workers over the next five to 10 years.. Nacario is part of the steering committee that aims to put these goals into action. Nacario This is truly where the work begins, we don’t want this to go up on a shelf and gather dust. So we have to get a group of core individuals together to make sure over the next 2, 5, 7 years this continues to move forward The workforce partnership also recommends developing a regional training hub to create a steady pipeline of behavioral health workers. MH KPBS News.


S-D-S-U’s athletic director has confirmed the department hired a rape survivor and victim’s advocate to speak to the football team last fall, shortly after a 17-year-old girl reported being raped by football players.

KPBS reporter Alexander Nguyen has a look at the sexual violence training that all S-D-S-U athletes go through.

Brenda Tracy was part of what SDSU athletic director John Wicker calls “enhanced training” for athletes.It took place a few weeks after the alleged rape was reported. She did not know at the time how similar the rape allegations were to her own sexual assault in 1998. Tracy was gang raped by Oregon State football players. “I just I don't get it because I speak very specifically about the people who do nothing.” All San Diego State student-athletes are required each fall to go through the training provided by the Center for Community Solutions .. San Diego’s only rape crisis center. The training includes breaking down power dynamics and bystander intervention … giving athletes the tools to speak up. 

Verna Griffin-Tabor is the chief executive officer for the Center for Community Solutions.

“We have a curriculum that we go through, and it's, “What is consent” and some role-playing some discussions. breaking out in smaller groups so hopefully, the athletes have the opportunity to really take a deep dive really self-reflect.”

That was reporting from KPBS’s Alex Nguyen.


Chula Vista’s Harborside Park is supposed to be closed today… but people who’ve been living in tents there are making their case to stay put.

They’ve filed a preliminary injunction request at federal court to try to keep the City from evicting them…

Mandy Lien helped them file the paperwork.

“They're filing Martin vs Boise that they've been offered no reasonable shelter, and per that, they cannot be evicted from this park. Because Chula Vista has zero shelter beds and even if they send them to other areas, there’s still no shelter beds.”

"Mama Heather" has been homeless for over 25 years and lived in a tent at the park for the last 5 months. She packed all her belongings.

“Moving day tomorrow means heartache for everybody. A lot of people have a lot of ties with each other. They're trying to be together. I know a lot of the guys here, a lot of people here, that made a lot of friends. And they have to move, they don't know where they're going to go.”

If the temporary injunction filing doesn't work, Harborside Park will be temporarily closed for 90 days, with an option for the city manager to extend the closure longer.

It’ll cost the city $350,000 for temporary fencing and security.


Coming up.... How will Greenland’s melting ice sheets impact San Diego? We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.


A new analysis says the melting ice sheets of Greenland alone will cause a ten-inch rise to sea levels around the world.

KPBS Science and Technology reporter Thomas Fudge tells us about the study and what that means for San Diego.

As the oceans and the atmosphere warm, the ice sheets of Greenland are melting and breaking apart. And all that ice is going in the ocean. A new study, in the journal Nature Climate Change, says this will force a sea level rise of at least 10 inches, maybe as high as 30 inches. Helen Fricker is a geophysicist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She says San Diego already floods during King Tides, and we will see it get worse. You get Antarctica and Greeland melting on top and that baseline goes up. And so frequency of flooding increases. And they become longer. She says low-lying areas like Midway, which is planned for new development, will soon be underwater.  I’m sorry but the Midway District is going to be a problem in about a decade. Fricker says it’s hard to estimate just how much of Greenland’s ice sheets will melt. But sea levels will rise, and coastal communities like ours will see the consequences. SOQ.


First-year students at Cal State San Marcos are feeling the jitters as classes kick off this week.

But some of them get to wind down in the brand new housing facility.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us about the school’s newest housing complex.

North Commons is the name of the brand new 332 bed housing complex for Cal State San Marcos students inside the North City project near campus. It's the second housing facility to be built by the North City developer- Sea Breeze Properties. Allie Serrano, the interim director of residential education with Cal State San Marcos, says the new housing facilities are helping the campus keep up with the demand of new students. “CSUSM is no longer just a commuter campus, this is a place that students are excited to be at and a place that we really want to make sure this is the best years of their life.”  She says having more housing near campus has helped get more students to choose Cal State San Marcos. Next year, the university will break ground on a new affordable housing and dining facility on campus for low income students.  TT KPBS News


It happens to the best of us… You wake up one summer morning, casually walk through your home…and are confronted with ants…

Ants swarming on the cat food, ants marching into your garbage, ants in your bathroom.

Where do they come from? Why are they here?…and what can make them go away?

Professor David Holway is in the department of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution at U-C San Diego.

He studies the intricate structure of ant colonies, the different species of ants in California and why those tiny ants in your sink may be a problem for our ecology.

He joined KPBS’s Maureen Cavanaugh to talk about why these ants come into our homes.

The kind of ants I usually see these days are extremely small, not the bigger ants I remember at picnics on the East Coast. What kind of ants are these tiny ones?

So you say they’ve been here for about 100 years, so they’re not native to California?

How big is the colony of Argentine ants in California?

Do they pose a threat to our ecology?

Why do the ants make incursions into houses…what are they looking for that they can’t find outside?

If you see an ant, the first reaction may be to get out the can of Raid- is that an effective option?

TAG: That was UC San Diego Professor David Holway, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

San Diego County has a new plan to recruit behavioral health workers. In other news, San Diego State University’s athletic director confirmed the department hired a rape survivor and victim’s advocate to speak to the football team after rape accusations surfaced. Plus, a new analysis gives us a look into what Greenland’s melting ice sheets could mean for San Diego.