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Supervisor Fletcher Pitches Plans for Regional Hub for Behavioral Health


County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher today introduced his vision for a Regional Hub for Behavioral Health Continuum of Care while standing in front of a vacant, dilapidated County-owned property in a remote area of San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood.

“The County has a moral obligation to tackle the mental health crisis in our region. Today I am offering a new vision, a new model of care, to help people who suffer from behavioral health disorders,” said Supervisor Fletcher. “I believe the highest and best use of public land is to serve the public’s interest and am hopeful that this project will serve as a prototype that can be replicated in the four corners of our county to serve the residents of each respective region.”

The new hub for behavioral health would provide a broad spectrum of services, which may include crisis stabilization, inpatient, residential psychotherapeutic rehabilitation, substance abuse services, intensive outpatient, inpatient psychiatric care and other critical services. His proposed first steps in pursuing this vision will be considered by the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, March 27, 2019.

The action on Wednesday will re-purpose this land from a previous designation to build luxury condominiums to one focused entirely on behavioral health services.  It is in geographic proximity to two major hospitals and can help facilitate hospital discharges while providing a supportive care environment, reducing the chances of re-admittance and improving long-term outcomes.

In attendance at the press conference hosted at 4307 Third Avenue -- a long-abandoned youth mental health facility -- the Supervisor was joined by San Diego City Councilmember Chris Ward, UC San Diego Health CEO Patty Maysent; Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services, Benjamin Nicholls, Executive Director of the Hillcrest Business Association and several members of the community.              

Councilmember Ward has shown tremendous commitment and leadership on the issue of homelessness. Last year Councilmember Ward and then Supervisorial Candidate Fletcher stood together calling on the County to partner with the City of San Diego and others to expand behavioral health services. 

“The traumas associated with mental health issues, substance abuse, injury and chronic illness create significant challenges that must be addressed when working with homeless and unsheltered San Diegans,” said Councilmember Chris Ward.

“For over a year, I have been encouraging the County to invest in the facilities, equipment, and expertise needed to eliminate these barriers and to ease the transition of this vulnerable population into permanent supportive housing. I appreciate Supervisor Fletcher’s leadership on this issue and his efforts to ensure this property is used appropriately to fill a critical gap in our regions system-of-care.”

As part of the Supervisor’s recommendation to the Board, he is asking the Chief Administrative Officer to conduct a feasibility study to develop the appropriate mix of behavioral health services that should be at the site and explore partnerships with regional healthcare providers.

Patty Maysent, CEO, UC San Diego Health said, “UC San Diego Health is deeply supportive of Supervisor Fletcher's plan to potentially use the 3rd street property for behavioral health services to help meet the growing demand for inpatient and outpatient mental health services in our region.  UC San Diego Health is committed to developing a transformational regional solution for our growing mental health crisis in partnership with the County of San Diego and other supportive local health systems and providers.  This identified parcel of land is contiguous to UC San Diego Health Hillcrest campus and is a stone's throw away from Scripps Mercy, where we serve a growing number of vulnerable and underserved patients.”

Since taking office in January, Supervisor Fletcher has been conducting a deep-dive into behavioral health – meeting with County staff, reviewing studies, and talking with hospitals, and other healthcare providers, which has helped to shape his vision. One of the groups he met with is Interfaith Community Services, their Hawthorne Recuperative Care Center is among the only in the State of California helping homeless Veterans and civilians discharged from local hospitals following hospitalizations.

“In just six-months our 32-bed center in Escondido helped 71 people stabilize the health conditions they were hospitalized for and then graduate into stable housing. “Our comprehensive model of care addresses medical, behavioral health, social, economic, and housing needs,” said Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services. “Our hospitals and health plan partners fully fund the operations, demonstrating the strong return on investment healthcare and our larger community see when we invest in addressing the underlying causes of homelessness and poor health conditions.”

Local San Diego businesses have become involved in helping tackle homelessness particularly in Hillcrest where individuals struggling with behavioral health disorders are prevalent, the business leaders welcome a new solution to address this crisis.

"The business community of Hillcrest is excited that this facility is being proposed. Too often we see San Diego's most vulnerable falling through the gaps and ending up on the streets of Hillcrest. This will be an important resource for Hillcrest.  We applaud the efforts of Supervisor Fletcher to get this project moving."