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Mental health agency lauded for advances

A midterm grand jury report on the Nevada County Behavioral Health Department commends county efforts to improve it and seeks more money for services and facilities.

The report released Friday is a follow-up on the actions the Board of Supervisors said they would initiate in response to the the first report issued in May 2001. That report was prompted by the Jan. 10, 2001, shootings in which three died, two at the department’s building.



The follow-up report commends the county for hiring Behavioral Health Director Robert Erickson and medical director Dr. Douglas Crisp, citing two for improving management/staff relations.




In the interval since Erickson and Crisp were hired, the wait to see a psychiatrist has been reduced from as much as six weeks to about one, and group therapy has been restructured to accommodate specific disorders, according to the report.

However, the follow-up report found that clients in crisis must use local medical facilities that may not be equipped to handle psychiatric emergencies and that the county lacks a crisis stabilization unit.

Therefore, the jury recommended that the Board of Supervisors and Human Services Agency actively pursue establishment of a crisis stabilization facility.

The jury also found there’s insufficient space at the Health Education and Welfare building to accommodate the entire staff of the Behavioral Health department and strongly recommended the Board of Supervisors support efforts to secure an adequate facility.

The jury acknowledged the county has initiated a space planning study to consolidate Behavioral Health and the Human Services Agency in one location.

The jury also recommended the Behavioral Health director continue to seek increased funding to support the county’s growing population and the supervisors continue to support Behavioral Health services by at least maintaining its 2001-2002 allocation of $61,893.

Human Services Director Phyllis Murdock said she’s pleased with the report, but acknowledged there’s still much room for improvement.

“We’ve reduced the wait time from six weeks to one to see a psychiatrist; group therapy has been restructured, which is helpful to clients; and Erickson, Crisp and the Behavioral Health staff have worked hard to improve service delivery,” Murdock said. “But we have large and costly issues that impact behavioral health services in this county and statewide, and we’ll continue to improve where ever we can.”

Murdock said the county is working on a plan to consolidate the Behavioral Health Department and Human Services Agency and looking for more funding and an appropriate location for a crisis stabilization unit.


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