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Santa Barbara Supervisors Double Funding For Out-of-county Mental Health Beds to $4M

Santa Barbara County officials Tuesday approved allotting more than $2 million in additional funds to mental health services, which will contract the work out to facilities in Ventura and Merced.

The County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved doubling the amount the Department of Behavioral Wellness pays for acute inpatient care, to $4.1 million from $2.1 million, for the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

Funds will give Behavioral Wellness — formerly called the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services Department — 12 more beds in out-of-area psychiatric hospitals used for clients with emergency mental health needs under the Welfare and Institutions Code.

Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility has only 16 such beds.

Supervisors voted to increase the contract with Ventura’s Aurora Vista Del Mar Hospital by $2.1 million to $4.1 million through June 30.

Officials also increased its contract agreement with Merced Behavioral Center by $180,608 to $980,608 through June 30, 2017.

Behavioral Wellness provides mandated mental health, substance use and ancillary services to county residents.

Because there are a limited number of highly structured residential treatment services in California and none locally, the department contracts with Ventura’s acute psychiatric hospital for emergency-type services and Merced’s skilled nursing facilities.

When the county’s Psychiatric Health Facility is full, clients are placed in out-of-area beds, mostly in Ventura.

The new funding, which comes from the general fund’s unassigned balance from unanticipated revenue, means Ventura’s facility can serve nine more county clients per day.

Merced could offer three more beds.

Officials on Tuesday also approved Department of Behavioral Wellness plans to apply for $1.1 million in state grant funding to open a Lompoc Crisis Residential mental health facility.

Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf thanked department staff for seemingly moving client care in the right direction.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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