Santa Clara County to open mental health residential facility
A new Santa Clara County mental health residential treatment facility is set to open at 650 S. Bascom Ave. in San Jose on Aug. 8. Photo by Julia Forrest.

    In less than a month, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center will have a psychiatric resource to help fill the treatment gap between acute care and long-term stability.

    A new 28-bed adult residential treatment center at 650 S. Bascom Ave. in San Jose is slated to open this fall once it receives the necessary licenses. A ribbon cutting is planned for Aug. 8.  This step-down program bridges the gap in a need for further stabilization following acute psychiatric care services at Valley Medical Center (VMC) and other county facilities. The facility will provide 24-hour care in an unlocked environment for residents who are stable upon hospital discharge. Momentum for Health, one of the county’s largest nonprofit providers of mental health and substance use treatment services, will operate the center.

    The county-owned facility will offer patients case management, medication management, individual and group counseling, crisis intervention and other services. The program covers those with MediCal, unsponsored or undocumented. It will also help those at-risk for homelessness, re-hospitalization and those coming from high-intensity care inpatient psychiatric facilities.

    Eleonore Sosa-Pace, chief officer of residential and justice programs at Momentum, said the center has the ability to help people for up to two years. She said this transitional step is part of an individual’s mental health recovery process as the gap between acute care hospitalization and lower levels of care.

    “There’s really a need in our community for support for individuals that are facing a lot of challenges,” Sosa-Pace told San José Spotlight. “We need to look at this as a stepping stone to transition people from higher levels of care into the community.”

    The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has been quite vocal about these programs starting faster. In a memo from Supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Otto Lee to the board on Aug. 22, 2022, they criticized the lengthy delays and ramifications on the mentally ill in the community, and urged for swift completion to address the lack of beds dedicated to step-down care.

    Ellenberg and Lee said in the memo that funds from the county budget were approved in June 2021 and a permit issuance caused a five- month delay in August 2022, pushing the timeline for completion back to April 2023.

    The facility opens as the county continues to grapple with an ongoing mental health and substance use crisis. The county declared a mental health emergency in January 2022 due to increases in suicides and drug overdoses, the short supply of treatment beds and the overuse of prisons for treatment.

    The county is also slated to open a 207,000-square-foot behavioral health facility on its VMC campus in 2025. The facility will have 77 beds, 14 beds for children, 21 beds for teens and a separate, secure section with 42 beds for adults. This will be the first psychiatric facility in the county that caters to children and adolescents with acute psychiatric needs.

    The center’s opening comes on the heels of the pending Aug. 20 closure of Mission Oaks Hospital’s 18-bed inpatient psychiatric facility in Los Gatos, operated by Good Samaritan Hospital.

    Erik Riera, deputy director of behavioral health services for Santa Clara County, said the community needs a facility that will help people between intense and low levels of care, and this facility will fill that gap. He said that Crossroads Village, another Momentum mental health campus, has provided a good model for this residential treatment center.

    “It’s a big win for the community,” Riera told San José Spotlight. “It’s a new resource that’s been shown (to be) really, really successful… It just makes a huge impact for people, (it) helps them get back on track, connected with the services that they need, and then eventually get to living in their own place.”

    Uday Kapoor, board president of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Santa Clara County, expressed concern that the project took so long to complete. He hopes more facilities will open to address this vulnerable population.

    “It is very good,” Kapoor told San José Spotlight. “But we need a lot more of these facilities (for) this step-down care… It’s going to be a challenge to have more of these facilities, but it’s good to have this.”

    Contact Julia Forrest at [email protected] or follow @juliaforrest35 on Twitter.

    Editor’s Note: The adult residential treatment facility is only having a ribbon cutting on Aug. 8. The facility is not expected to be open until the fall.

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