Orange County Doubles Number of Mental Health Beds

Supervisor Andrew Do Leads Effort to Expand Mental Health Care Infrastructure

Families struggling with a mental health crisis will soon find more available access to emergency mental health services in Orange County. The Orange County Board of Supervisors has approved a plan that will double the number of crisis stabilization units in Orange County.

Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, who has lead the effort to expand and improve the County’s mental health infrastructure, says that the new facilities are an integral component of a stronger system of care.

“Orange County families have few places to go when a family member experiences a mental health crisis,” said Orange County Supervisor Do. “Crisis stabilization units provide patients with immediate access to life-saving support and vital mental health services.”

Under the plan approved Tuesday, the County will dedicate $13 million toward 12 crisis stabilization chairs, serving an average of 18 people per day at College Hospital in the City of Costa Mesa. Prior to the county’s expansion, Supervisor Do noted that Orange County had just 10 crisis stabilization units available to serve the county’s more than 3 million residents.

“Woefully inadequate,” said Supervisor Do. “That’s the only way to describe the recent history of Orange County’s mental health infrastructure. Since 2015, I have made it my priority to work with all community stakeholders to increase the number of crisis stabilization units available to serve every person in Orange County.” 

“The new Crisis Stabilization Unit at College Hospital will provide an essential service for Orange County residents,” said Vice Chair Michelle Steel, who represents the Second District where College Hospital is located. “Crisis Stabilization Units relieve pressure on emergency rooms while providing more appropriate care for patients experiencing mental health emergencies.”

In addition to the most recent action to double the number of crisis stabilization units, Orange County is currently in development on a first-of-its-kind mental health center and psychiatric emergency room facility in Orange. The 40 million project is scheduled to open in Spring 2020, and will provide a full suite of mental health services for patients in Orange County.

Benefit of Crisis Stabilization Units Frequently, patients living with mental health issues cannot wait for a regularly scheduled appointment. Crisis stabilization units provide patients psychiatric assessment, physical screening, collateral history, therapy, crisis intervention, medication services, education, nursing assessment, coordination of referrals to continuing care and emergency housing, post discharge planning and facilitation of transfer of individuals to inpatient treatment facilities when clinically appropriate and indicated.

“This facility provides patients with the treatment they need – when they need it,” said Supervisor Andrew Do.

Provided on a 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year basis, the CSU will provide services to

walk-ins, police transports and emergency department referrals regardless of funding/insurance. The Orange County Health Care Agency will reimburse the provider on a fee for service basis for Medi-Cal units of service.

Supervisor Do also credited the Orange County Register’s 2014 investigation for inspiring collective action to address the county’s shortage of mental health emergency facilities. The Register investigation reported that patients routinely “flood hospital emergency rooms, where they’d sometimes remain for days without proper treatment, often preventing other injured patients from receiving care.”

“We’re making progress,” Supervisor Do said. “There’s still more work to be done, but more crisis stabilization units will make a real difference for Orange County families.”