Mental crisis facility too costly?
The cost to establish a crisis stabilization unit for mental health clients in dire straights is out of reach for Nevada County.
Behavioral Health Director Robert Erickson told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday it would cost the county upwards of $650,000 just to get a crisis stabilization unit up and running.
In lieu of starting up an expensive new program the county can’t afford, Erickson recommended incremental improvements to his department’s existing program.
“I believe it’s not a necessary costly endeavor,” said Erickson of the estimated first-year cost for a new facility, which doesn’t include additional expenses for psychiatric on-call time.
Erickson said the Behavioral Health Department is making use of a few beds at the Odyssey House in Nevada City and utilizing other measures in an effort to safely divert persons in crisis from being admitted to out-of county inpatient facilities.
“Do you feel that the level of service to clients is good as if you opened up a CSU? asked Supervisor Sue Horne.
“I think we’re pretty close,” responded Erickson. “I don’t think people are being harmed by this. They’re getting pretty good services.”
Erickson’s report came in response to civil Grand Jury recommendation that the county actively pursue creation of a crisis stabilization facility and evaluate possible funding options.
The Behavioral Health Department currently handles psychiatric emergencies during business hours but sends clients in crisis to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital emergency room after hours and on weekends.
In light of the state’s ongoing budget crisis and expected cuts to county programs, Erickson recommended the county not expend further resources in a study of the CSU option and that the matter be closed.
While the board of supervisors voted unanimously to accept Erickson’s report, Supervisor Elizabeth Martin said the county needs to do more to improve mental health services.
“This is not the right thing…,” Martin said. “What we have here is not a solution.”
Martin suggested the county’s Mental Health Board continue to look for better solutions.
“It really is solvable,” said Martin of the county’s struggle to improve mental health services. “It’s just a matter of money.”
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