On June 8, Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria opened its first behavioral health unit, which hospital leaders say fills an urgent and unmet need in the community.
The eight-chair behavioral health unit will be open 24 hours a day to provide “intervention, assessment, evaluation, therapy, and support for those experiencing a mental health crisis,” according to a Marian press release.
FILE PHOTO BY ZAC EZZONE
NEW UNIT Marian Regional Medical Center added a behavioral health unit, which hospital leaders say is urgently needed.
Because of the unit, which will be staffed by psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, Marian says it can now quickly transfer patients there from its emergency room, rather than wait for openings at out-of-area mental health facilities.
“With one out of every eight emergency department visits being behavioral health or substance abuse related, the behavioral health outpatient unit will fill an incredible void in local health care,” Marian’s press release read. “[The unit] will see patients as soon as they are medically cleared, providing early treatment initiation.”
For now, Marian’s new unit will only serve patients at the Santa Maria hospital, but it could potentially expand in the “near future” to serve those in San Luis Obispo County, according to spokesperson Sara San-Juan.
The hospital’s press release stated that Santa Barbara County currently has only four inpatient mental health beds for every 100,000 residents, when the medically recommended number is 50 beds per 100,000 residents.
David Ketelaar, an emergency physician at Marian hospital, said that the need for services is growing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mental health conditions were increasing in all age groups prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has accelerated this increase dramatically,” Ketelaar said. “We are committed to supporting local behavioral health services to meet the needs of our community.” ∆