San Diego County partners with Tri-City Medical Center to reverse mental health crisis in North County

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – County officials joined leaders of Tri-City Medical Center today to announce an agreement that will fund a much-needed 16 bed psychiatric facility on the Tri-City campus.

To appreciate the announcement, you have to go back to October of 2018.  Faced with meeting new patient safety standards involving it’s aging behavioral health facility, along with inadequate reimbursement for care, Tri-City Medical Center’s board shuttered the facility. The closure also caused suspension of a relatively new crisis stabilization unit. The ripple effect not only impacted other providers in the North County, including Palomar Medical Center in Escondido but the entire county.

Dr. Luke Bergmann is the County’s Director of Behavioral Health. He told KUSI, “I think  the litmus test for a crisis is what we see in the numbers.  What we saw was a huge increase of folks with psychiatric issues in crisis needing to be transported to other parts of the county, including down to the County’s hospital for care. We hadn’t seen levels like that before. It was directly traceable.”

Monday morning, Supervisors Jim Desmond and Kristen Gaspar, who represent the North County, said the County would provide $17.4M to build a new 16-bed psychiatric health facility on the Tri-City campus.  When you talk about the cost of such a facility, you have to appreciate the cost of adding another inmate to the jails or another unstable person to the streets.

Dr. Bergmann added, “”This initiative is in fact about a broader continuum of care.  From inpatient to outpatient care.  And as we build up the care, the county will be paying in such a way to incentivize a greater coordination of care and part of this agreement is to encourage a more robust transition from inpatient to outpatient and that’s what this incentivizes.”

Categories: Good Morning San Diego, Local San Diego News