Palomar Medical Center / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Patients grappling with mental health crises are flooding local emergency rooms, chaotic environments that can exacerbate their conditions.

A Voice of San Diego analysis of ER data reported to the state reveals a 60 percent spike in visits for mental health disorders over the last decade.

Lisa Halverstadt found that ERs are often the only option for patients in crisis and that many patients can remain stuck in ERs for hours — or even days — while they wait for long-term care and services already filled with other patients in need.

Those waits and the chaotic ER environment can translate into increased anxiety, agitation and depression for already-traumatized patients.

One City Heights woman pulled out one of her eyes during a 2017 ER visit. Other patients describe increasing suicidal thoughts or hours without water.

County officials have said they aim to transform the region’s mental health system by focusing more on preventative care and opening psychiatric urgent cares across the region to give patients more immediate options.

For now, Halverstadt reports, patients are pouring into ERs with sometimes devastating results.

Good News and Bad News for San Diego on Earthquakes

In the wake of last week’s earthquake, VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga put together a new FAQ about San Diego’s earthquake risk. He found reason to be terrified, and reason for some hope. San Diego isn’t too close to the notorious San Andreas Fault, but the Rose Canyon Fault does run through downtown.

“The Rose Canyon Fault is certainly capable of upwards of a magnitude 7 quake,” San Diego State seismologist and geologist Thomas K. Rockwell told Voice of San Diego Sunday. “Fortunately, they’re not that frequent. On the Rose Canyon Fault, the average recurrence is every 700-800 years, and the last one was about 300 years ago.”

Still, Rockwell said, “there’s certainly enough strain to have a magnitude 6 earthquake, which could be quite destructive.”

Extremely Online in San Diego

What is TV? You may remember it as a box that you turned on. It received signals. You watched what was being broadcast. You had a few different channels to explore. 

Now, though, you have infinite options. People are playing games or narrating their lives and perspectives on video feeds through YouTube and Twitch and other platforms and some have built vast communities. 

In San Diego, below the surface where reality transitions to online reality, stars with more fame and money than any local TV anchor or disk jockey are thriving and engaging with fans around the globe.

One of the top talent managers for the space — the Online Performers Group — is based here and represents some of the creators who are known for being “extremely online.” We asked contributor Julia Dixon Evans to look into this subculture in San Diego and what she came back with is an entertaining trek through a world you will want to understand if you want to know where the internet is heading. 

The Difference Between Transitional Housing and Shelters

The homeless crisis in San Diego has introduced many terms to San Diego’s political discussion. But if you’re not deeply involved in housing policy, it may not be clear what they all mean. 

Do you know what the difference is between permanent supportive housing and transitional housing? If not, we’ve got your back. 

Halverstadt and Adriana Heldiz produced a series of illustrations explaining what each type of government-supported housing involves. 

We also made it into a new episode of San Diego Explained with NBC’s Catherine Garcia that you can watch here

Major Ruling Is Good News for Convention Center Backers

We don’t have presses and they weren’t running Friday but we would have stopped them if we did have them and if they were running. 

A new ruling out of a court in San Francisco was no doubt well received in the mayor’s office in San Diego City Hall. 

Background: With a new increase in the hotel room tax, San Diego’s mayor and his allies hope to add some of those assisted housing services and shelters and who knows what else because there’s no plan yet. They also want to expand the Convention Center. And fund road repair. 

It’s a big bunch of money!

But crucial to their plan is that it’s a citizens initiative — not a measure put on the ballot by the City Council. That’s crucial because there’s a theory that as a citizens initiative, it can raise taxes for specific purposes like this without a two-thirds vote of the people. And that’s because of a 2017 Supreme Court ruling we’ve written about a lot. 

The news: Nobody had tested that theory in court and won. San Francisco voters passed two tax increases with support from just a majority of voters, not two thirds. The city declared that they passed.

Now a court has said that’s right

Podcast: Republicans Aim to Replace Hunter

Sara Libby and Ry Rivard took over the podcast during the holiday week. They talked about several political developments. Like how Republicans are not shy about taking on their own embattled congressman, Duncan Hunter. Rivard and Libby also talked about the legal issue that is holding up San Diego’s long-planned construction of a wastewater recycling plant. 

Mark your calendars! Our next live podcast is Wednesday, and this time it’s in South Bay. We have booked Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas and Jason Wells, the CEO of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce. Register now for tickets

The Housing Fight Continues

We’ve written a lot about the rhetorical battle forming between San Diego mayoral candidates Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria over housing. They took it to the U-T opinion section Friday. Gloria: “We have to create housing for everyone at every income level.” Bry: “For our city to thrive, we must accommodate housing for all income levels, including the workers in our hospitality and service industries.”

Speaking of housing: The Los Angeles Times has a look at what $750,000 buys in various San Diego neighborhoods. 

Speaking of housing, II: The Union-Tribune finds that a new lot set aside for people who live in their cars isn’t being used

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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