For emergency room doctors and nurses, it’s obviously a heartbreaking, frustrating decision to move a patient hours away when what they need most at the time is consistent, comprehensive local care, with access to their family and ongoing neighborhood mental health resources. As things stand now in Santa Maria, there is no standalone unit that can provide stabilization to those in mental health crisis. A minimum of 50 inpatient beds are recommended to serve every 100,000 people; Santa Barbara County has only 4 for every 100,000. But all of that is about to change. Thanks to the fundraising and advocacy efforts of several Western Growers members, Dignity Health’s Marian Regional Medical Center is about to open a 24-hour Crisis Stabilization Unit to support those with mental health needs that can be managed by 18-24 hours of intensive evaluation, therapy and support. “What happened over the years was that the number of persons in crisis and not getting beds in a timely fashion just kept gradually growing,” Ketelaar said. “We needed a different solution to get more
in-patient beds and capacity. My ER colleagues across California and across the country are dealing with the same thing.” And so a solution was developed: establish a short-term crisis care unit that treats the immediate mental health issue and lays the groundwork for long-term community-
based health. The hospital anticipated that once a center was built at Marian, instead of sending patients out of the county, 50-75 percent will be safely discharged home after one day of treatment by specially-trained psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and support staff in the Crisis Stabilization Unit.
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