Behavioral Health by Carolyn Evans Chair, Behavioral Health Board

head with gears

The Behavioral Health Board began its new year with the sharing of stories by board members about their experiences related to Substance Use Disorders (SUD).  There had been some concern from community members about the board’s commitment to SUD programs.  The board hopes to have alleviated that fear by sharing personal stories that showed interest, experience and expertise in SUD.

During her presentation Department of Behavioral Health Director Dawan Utecht reported that Fresno County’s plan for Drug MediCal Redesign had been approved by both the state and the federal governments.  The implementation of that plan, which will  provide many more services for those with SUDs, will begin soon with timelines and Requests For Proposals from service providers.  
The Program Review, with Outcome results, was of the Exodus Crisis Stabilization Center, which serves both children and adults who are experiencing mental health crises, are a risk to themselves or others, and/or are at risk of becoming gravely disabled.  Exodus is open 24/7 to walk-in clients and to those on welfare, as well as those on Institution Code 5150 involuntary holds.  Clients usually stay less than 24 hours, are stabilized, and then either released or sent to an inpatient treatment facility. 

The most encouraging outcome is the reduction in the number of individuals with multiple admissions.  The reasons for this dramatic reduction are unclear, but the Department will be studying data to determine reasons and to assure that this trend continues.  Board members had done a site visit at Exodus the previous week, and were impressed with the staff members’ commitment to a “whatever it takes” approach to serve the needs of their clients. 
 The facilities are dated and not ideal for providing the best service, but staff is adapting, and making efforts to make the space more welcoming and more comfortable for clients and for families who are visiting.

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