County, community celebrate opening of Crisis Stabilization Unit

County, hospital partnership yields first crisis stabilization facility in East Kern County

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

County, community celebrate opening of Crisis Stabilization UnitYears of collaborative attempts to bring critical services to Ridgecrest and the outlying areas of East Kern culminated on Wednesday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Crisis Stabilization Unit, a joint effort of Kern County and Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

“This is a great day today in which we open our community’s mental health crisis stabilization unit,” said RRH CEO Jim Suver. “Any of us at any time can be touched by the need for mental health services, and this new center will ensure those needs are met in a compassionate and effective manner.”

In a time when county services are being cut, “this is a positive example of collaboration with Kern County.”

Although RRH has been methodically expanding services and augmenting facilities for the last several years, limited resources for mental health has been the subject of concern for both public safety and health care services.

Standard operating procedure, up to now has been for law enforcement to transport anyone suspected to be suffering from mental-health issues to Bakersfield for treatment. In addition to taking officers out of service, victims are typically stranded in the metropolitan area of the county without a vehicle, an advocate or other means of support.

“Superior mental healthcare will now be provided here, rather than in the back of a police car headed to Bakersfield,” said Suver. “Our hardworking police officers and hospital staff will now have a local resource to use, allowing them to focus on other important tasks.”

He particularly credited completion of the project to Robin Taylor, crisis services administrator, and Bill Walker, Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services director.

“It has been a pleasure working with both of them, and their team’s efforts made this possible. I also want to thank Kyle Garrett of the RRH team.”

He said the project was also made possible by the foresight of the RRH Board of Directors, which continues to put the community’s healthcare needs as its highest priority.

The hospital funded the land and improvements. The county procured a grant to build the facility, and will be providing telemedicine and nursing services.

“Having this capability, expanding our ability to influence and help and treat people in need, is our greatest priority,” said Kern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason. “Government’s role, if it’s not designed to focus on and help and treat the people who are most in need, why do we have government? This is it. This is why we exist. This is why we pay tax dollars — to help us live with a quality of life we can expect.”

He also commended Walker for his leadership, innovation, willingness to embrace new ideas, collaborate and expand his sphere of influence.

“Hiring you is one of the best things Kern County ever did.”

“Is this not a long overdue addition to East Kern?” Walker asked a crowd of nearly 100, who turned out for the ceremony. He said that from his front door to the Ridgecrest Police Station is exactly 100 miles — a distance he knows well after traveling it so many times to meet with our chief.

“How many of you know that Ridgecrest alone is larger than 12 counties in California?” Each of those counties gets services, because they are mandated. Although Ridgecrest has all the needs of those counties, the services it needs have not always been accessible.

“I understand how important it is not to put people into a squad car and travel over a mountain pass to get services — especially in the most critical of times,” said Walker.

“This is not the only thing we are doing here.”

The expansion of much-needed mental health services will continue in the Indian Wells Valley, he said. “You have my promise on that.”

The CSU will provide access to psychiatric providers, nurses, social workers and other clinic staff. Services will include psychiatric assessments, medication evaluation and service, development of crisis and recovery plans and referrals to other services.

The facility is located at 1141 Chelsea St., and can be reached by calling 760-463-2880.

Services will be provided through Telecare Corporation.

Pictured: Surrounded by Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors as well as staff from collaborating agencies, (from left) Robin Taylor (holding scissors), Supervisor Mick Gleason, RRH?CEO?Jim Suver and Bill Walker cut the ribbon during the grand-opening of the new Crisis Stabilization Unit in Ridgecrest. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-10-27