A huge step for men­tal health

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By JULIE DRAKE

LAN­CASTER— In ap­prox­i­mately nine months An­te­lope Val­ley res­i­dents in need of men­tal health ser­vices will be able to walk into the fu­ture High Desert Men­tal Health Ur­gent Care Cen­ter to re­ceive ser­vices any time, any day of the week.

L.A. County Su­per­vi­sor Kathryn Barger, Mayor R. Rex Par­ris and other dig­ni­taries and com­mu­nity lead­ers cer­e­mo­ni­ously broke ground for the new cen­ter Mon­day morn­ing, on a va­cant six-acre plot of land at Av­enue I and 5th Street East, east of the High Desert Re­gional Health Cen­ter.

“The sig­nif­i­cance of what we’re do­ing to­day is go­ing to change the way we work and sup­port those with men­tal ill­ness in the An­te­lope Val­ley,” Barger said.

The $16.5 mil­lion High Desert Men­tal Health Ur­gent Care Cen­ter will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will serve chil­dren, ado­les­cents and adults who are suf­fer­ing through a cri­sis and need im­me­di­ate sta­bi­liza­tion. Ser­vices will in­clude di­ag­no­sis, eval­u­a­tion, treat­ment, re­fer­rals, con­sul­ta­tion, com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, cri­sis in­ter­ven­tion/sta­bi­liza­tion, med­i­ca­tion sup­port and case man­age­ment.

In ad­di­tion, the cen­ter will help re

duce lo­cal emer­gency room crowd­ing and re­duce un­nec­es­sary hos­pi­tal­iza­tions, which can fur­ther trau­ma­tize pa­tients.

“Our county de­part­ments of men­tal health and health ser­vices will put pro­to­cols in place to seam­lessly re­fer pa­tients to other county fa­cil­i­ties,” Barger said.

The goal, she added, is to make it user-friendly so pa­tients do not have to nav­i­gate on their own.

The cen­ter will op­er­ate un­der a con­tract with the Los An­ge­les County De­part­ment of Men­tal Health by Star View Be­hav­ioral Health. Star View is a sub­sidiary of Stars Be­hav­ioral Health Group, which was founded in 1988 and of­fers pro­grams through­out Cal­i­for­nia. The fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to add be­tween 55 and 60 jobs, mostly reg­is­tered nurses and li­censed vo­ca­tional nurses, when it opens.

Par­ris praised Barger for rec­og­niz­ing that prob­lems can­not be solved by group­ing them.

“You cat­e­go­rize prob­lems and you solve them,” he said. “This is go­ing to be a prob­lem solver that is go­ing to save a lot of lives.”

Dr. Jonathan E. Sherin, direc­tor of L.A. County De­part­ment of Men­tal Health, said the An­te­lope Val­ley has tol­er­ated not hav­ing re­sources such as the fu­ture cen­ter for a long time.

“And what we need to do is we need to have real-time health and hu­man ser­vice re­sponses from peo­ple that have health and hu­man ser­vice ur­gen­cies and not al­ways rely upon law en­force­ment, and this is an ex­am­ple of that,” Sherin said.

L.A. County De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works Direc­tor Mark Pestrella said the ap­prox­i­mately 9,900-square­foot fa­cil­ity will be con­structed with a com­bi­na­tion of wood and struc­tural steel.

“We’re ready to build this fa­cil­ity on time and on bud­get for this com­mu­nity,” he said.

The plan in­cludes a park­ing lot, am­bu­lance drive and land­scap­ing im­prove­ments to cap­ture wa­ter rather than let it run into the streets. The build­ing in­cludes nurse sta­tions, ther­apy rooms, seclu­sion rooms and of­fices for L.A. Men­tal Health and Star View Be­hav­ioral Health.

Con­struc­tion of the low-en­ergy use fa­cil­ity will be com­pleted by the PENTA Build­ing Group.

The project is pro­jected to be com­pleted by Oc­to­ber. Ap­prox­i­mately 30% of work­ers work­ing on the fa­cil­ity will come from the An­te­lope Val­ley.

MARTIN ZAMORA/LA COUNTY BOARD OF SU­PER­VI­SORS

Los An­ge­les County Su­per­vi­sor Kathryn Barger, (cen­ter left, black coat) Mayor R. Rex Par­ris (cen­ter, right) and other dig­ni­taries cer­e­mo­ni­ously broke ground for the new High Desert Men­tal Health Ur­gent Care Cen­ter Mon­day morn­ing at Av­enue I and 5th Street East.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SU­PER­VI­SOR KATHRYN BARGER’S OF­FICE

An artist ren­der­ing of the 9,900-square-foot High Desert Men­tal Health Ur­gent Care Cen­ter.

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