Behavioral Health Services Receives $10.8 Million


Palomar Health agreed to a $10.8 million, two-year contract with the County of San Diego to provide expanded behavioral health services in the North County.

At its board meeting on Tuesday, several County board members praised Palomar Health for taking on the expanded role and caring for the region’s most vulnerable population at a time when treatment beds have been shrinking.

In her public remarks at Tuesday’s board meeting, Palomar Health President and CEO Diane Hansen thanked the County board for their leadership on the issue of behavioral health and said, “You are truly making a difference in the lives of others.”

The contract is a partnership between Palomar Health and the County of San Diego. The County will provide funding to decrease Palomar Health’s losses, estimated at $15 million last fiscal year, providing behavioral health services at its three campus locations. In return, Palomar Health will increase staff to double the number of patients it serves in its Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) and establish a Behavioral Health Triage Unit inside its Emergency Department.

CSUs are short-term care, less than 24 hours, in which a treatment team stabilizes patients suffering from a behavioral health crisis and helps patients transition to long-term care (often back home with outpatient care) where they can continue to receive appropriate treatment. Under the contract, Palomar Health has agreed to expand the unit from a capacity of six to 12 patients.

The Behavioral Health Triage Unit will consist of a team of physicians, nurses and therapists working within the Emergency Department to treat dual diagnosis patients (mental and physical) and patients waiting to transfer to inpatient behavioral health facilities. With the shortage of inpatient treatment beds in the community, some patients are waiting days and even weeks to leave the Emergency Department. The Triage Unit will be instrumental in helping these patients receive appropriate treatment while they wait.

Palomar Health is committed to working with the County and regional partners, including other healthcare systems, to create a long-term solution for our community’s behavioral health needs.

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