Supervisors Approve Funding for New Mental Health Crisis Facility

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Orange County has long had a severe shortage of hospital beds for people experiencing a mental health crisis, particularly children.

Because of that, many patients have to wait more than a day at an unequipped hospital before they can see a psychiatrist, which experts say often worsens the situation.

But progress is expected to come in December, when county officials plan to open a new crisis stabilization facility in Garden Grove to serve up to 22 patients at a time, including youth aged 13 and up.

The 24/7 facility will accept people who are undergoing a psychiatric emergency and at risk of being hospitalized, but can’t wait for an appointment elsewhere. It is scheduled to open on Dec. 1 and serve anyone meeting that criteria who walks in, is dropped off by police, or is referred by an emergency room, according to the county.

Each patient’s stay will limited to just under 24 hours.

County supervisors approved a contract Tuesday with Exodus Recovery, Inc. to operate the facility. The Culver City-based firm is affiliated with St. Joseph’s Hospital and is run by the husband and wife team of David and Luana Murphy. The company runs several mental health facilities in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

“This is a big step forward for us,” said Supervisor Andrew Do, who led the effort along with Supervisor Lisa Bartlett.

Bartlett said she hoped to get more of these centers opened up throughout Orange County to help people get “back on their feet” again.

She also credited state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Irvine), who succeeded in getting state officials to clarify in July that state Mental Health Services Act funding can be used for crisis stabilization services.

For decades, the county government has had just one crisis stabilization unit, a 10-bed facility is in Santa Ana. There are also several hundred psychiatric beds at private facilities across Orange County, but they are often full.

In response to the shortage, county supervisors sought and received a $3 million state grant to help establish the Garden Grove facility.

The ongoing costs for patient care will be covered by federal and state dollars, in the case of Medi-Cal patients, and private insurance for people who have private coverage. County officials don’t expect to need any other funding sources.

Under its county contract, Exodus is slated receive $9.1 million in the first year, and $7.4 million per year after.

During Tuesday’s supervisors’ meeting, Jennifer Muir Beuthin, general manager of the Orange County Employees Association, raised concerns about the new facility being run by a private contractor. The Santa Ana facility is run by county employees.

Beuthin said the union full supports the new facility, but pointed out that the county admitted that it hasn’t evaluated why it would be better to outsource than have county employees provide the services.

Other information is missing, she said, like the financial health of contractor, how conflicts of interest would be addressed, and who at the county would be assigned to oversee the contract.

Beuthin pointed to another county health contractor that recently filed for bankruptcy, leaving many residents without care.

“We can’t let this happen again,” she said.

Additionally, she said the county was required to to meet and confer with employees before contracting the new crisis bed jobs to a private sector provider.

Mark Refowitz, director of the county’s Health Care Agency, disputed that there was a need to meet and confer. He said the Garden Grove facility is entirely separate from the Santa Ana facility, and that seven county employees will be added to the Santa Ana facility later this year as part of an expansion.

None of the supervisors nor county staff responded to Beuthin’s other concerns regarding the outsourcing.

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

  • Steve McNally

    You are needed: CONTACT SENATOR JOHN MOORLACH AND THE COSTA MESA CITY COUNCIL

    It is my understanding that California Senator John Moorlach has asked for county and city support for SB 59. SB 59 is a placeholder as the process starts to determine the future of Fairview Developmental Center.

    WHY NOW: Why Fairview Developmental Center, Costa Mesa, CA:

    *Unique 115 acre campus consists of residential and treatment units including those for medical treatment, special needs, and general wards.

    *Configured to divide smaller sections from the larger property. There are few facilities like this in Southern California.

    *SB59 is an Open Request to determine State intention / Costa Mesa Zoning / County Stakeholders Inclusion.

    I am writing to you to ask you and your board to contact Senator John Moorlach to express your support for SB 59: an open request to confirm state of California intention, city of Costa Mesa zoning and our community stakeholder inclusion.

    This can provide us an opportunity to address community needs.

  • Jacki Livingston

    *facepalm* You do realize that these are the same people who have looked the other way for seven years, at least, as county nursing homes were double and triple billing, paying kickbacks to county managers and employees and rigging the billing system? The same ones who looked the other way as patients were DYING in these nursing homes paid for with your tax money, right? These are not the rantings of a disgruntled former employee, these are facts, with proof in court!

    Now, Todd “Hiding Behind My Wife’s Robe” Spitzer is putting his hand in the cookie jar again to give a facility to a donor? The Murphys don’t have a sterling rep, inside the SSA, kids.

    Nick, are you guys at VoC stoned, or just stupid? Seriously, do you guys ever do your homework? Forget the boxes of files and documents I sent to you, look at the court records for the lawsuits! Look at the complaints to the state! Look at the series of articles written by newpapers! Spitzer should never be allowed anywhere near any medical facility in the county, after what he pulled for SunMar and the others.

  • This is a good start. I applaud this decision and the folks who helped it materialize. Somebody definitely worked behind the scenes on this one, alongside the OC Supervisors. Projects like this do not come together easily or overnight.

    • Jacki Livingston

      No, it takes a lot of bribes, not to mention County managers rigging the billing systems for double and triple billing to make this happen. I know…I’ve seen it. It cost me my career.

  • verifiedsane

    “Not to exceed 24 hours”, that’s just catch, drug, and release…..not real treatment…..I must wonder who’s getting kick backs, and making political hay on the board from this deal? Of course it’s not slated to happen until Dec 2017…So a whole lot can change between now and then….

    • Jacki Livingston

      It will take them that long to set up the five or six billing code numbers in the CalWin system, not to mention the donations to Spitzie’s run for DA, done with fake employee names. I’ve seen this movie before, and VoC ignored the evidence in that, too.

  • Paul Lucas

    I hope it doesnt get used and ruined as a political football. Good luck.

    • verifiedsane

      Just follow the money, influence peddling, and the politics….everything with the OC Supes is a political football….