This post originally published in the Sept. 28 Morning Report.
The county wants to add hundreds of new community-based behavioral health beds to transform its currently clogged system.
County behavioral health officials on Tuesday briefed county supervisors on a plan that focuses on adding beds outside hospitals and instead in less-restrictive facilities such as skilled nursing homes and places they have dubbed respite centers. The goal is to, over time, reduce the need for expensive crisis services and connect those in need with care that can meet their needs at the least restrictive level possible.
Luke Bergmann, the county’s behavioral health services director, said the county and an outside contractor estimated the region needs nearly 400 new long-term care beds alone. He said a recent county pivot away from a plan to build a behavioral health hub on county property in Hillcrest and instead to a contract with Prime Healthcare opens up possibilities for the county to deliver resources such as dwindling board-and-care beds and recuperative care beds for people stepping down from hospitals at county-owned properties in Hillcrest and Midway. The county is considering a similar model in East County.
The Union-Tribune did a deep dive on the county plan and our Lisa Halverstadt last week explained how a years-long shortage of long-term care options has been exacerbated by the pandemic and the state’s new CARE Court policy could put more pressure on the system.
Bergmann said county officials will return to supervisors on Oct. 11 to provide more details on its strategy to add behavioral health beds.