Published : Wednesday, December 4, 2019 | 4:12 PM
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to improve access to mental health treatment in Los Angeles County by adopting a two-year pilot program to procure up to 500 beds for those in need of care.
“Mental health hospital beds have dwindled, leaving a significant number of patients and their families without access to critically needed care,” Supervisor Barger said. “This is a significant step forward in my commitment to increase access to quality services for those suffering from mental illness, especially among the homeless population and those in our jails. We must explore all options to provide additional avenues to recovery.”
By adopting the recommendations from the October 29, 2019 report issued by the Department of Mental Health (DMH), the county is seeking to increase its treatment beds and deliver higher quality care for those with mental illness and substance abuse, many of whom cycle in and out of hospitals and on and off the streets with no sustainable path to recovery.
“This effort isn’t just about increasing the number of beds,” said Dr. Jonathan Sherin, the director of the county’s Department of Mental Health. “It’s also about increasing the quality and efficiency of care and creating a coordinated, connected, and integrated network across all hospitals, whether they’re county hospitals or private hospitals.”
Currently, many individuals who no longer need hospital care linger in our hospitals due to a lack of post-hospital options. According to recent analyses referenced in the DMH report, LA County may need up to 3,000 additional subacute (longer-term) mental health treatment beds. Individuals often wait in hospitals for months for subacute care; wait times for state hospital care are often a year or more.
The motion directs the Board to adopt the October 29, 2019 report and approves the “Recommended Actions for the Board of Supervisors”, including a two year pilot to procure up to 500 mental health treatment beds. These additional beds will decrease waitlists for post-hospital care, free up hospital beds for more individuals who need them, and reduce the number of individuals suffering from mental illness on our streets and in our jails.