LANCASTER— In approximately nine months Antelope Valley residents in need of mental health services will be able to walk into the future High Desert Mental Health Urgent Care Center to receive services any time, any day of the week.
L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Mayor R. Rex Parris and other dignitaries and community leaders ceremoniously broke ground for the new center Monday morning, on a vacant six-acre plot of land at Avenue I and 5th Street East, east of the High Desert Regional Health Center.
“The significance of what we’re doing today is going to change the way we work and support those with mental illness in the Antelope Valley,” Barger said.
The $16.5 million High Desert Mental Health Urgent Care Center will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will serve children, adolescents and adults who are suffering through a crisis and need immediate stabilization. Services will include diagnosis, evaluation, treatment, referrals, consultation, community engagement, crisis intervention/stabilization, medication support and case management.
In addition, the center will help reduce local emergency room crowding and reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, which can further traumatize patients.
“Our county departments of mental health and health services will put protocols in place to seamlessly refer patients to other county facilities,” Barger said.
The goal, she added, is to make it user-friendly so patients do not have to navigate on their own.
The center will operate under a contract with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health by Star View Behavioral Health. Star View is a subsidiary of Stars Behavioral Health Group, which was founded in 1988 and offers programs throughout California. The facility is expected to add between 55 and 60 jobs, mostly registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses, when it opens.
Parris praised Barger for recognizing that problems cannot be solved by grouping them.
“You categorize problems and you solve them,” he said. “This is going to be a problem solver that is going to save a lot of lives.”
Dr. Jonathan E. Sherin, director of L.A. County Department of Mental Health, said the Antelope Valley has tolerated not having resources such as the future center for a long time.
“And what we need to do is we need to have real-time health and human service responses from people that have health and human service urgencies and not always rely upon law enforcement, and this is an example of that,” Sherin said.
L.A. County Department of Public Works Director Mark Pestrella said the approximately 9,900-square-foot facility will be constructed with a combination of wood and structural steel.
“We’re ready to build this facility on time and on budget for this community,” he said.
The plan includes a parking lot, ambulance drive and landscaping improvements to capture water rather than let it run into the streets. The building includes nurse stations, therapy rooms, seclusion rooms and offices for L.A. Mental Health and Star View Behavioral Health.
Construction of the low-energy use facility will be completed by the PENTA Building Group.
The project is projected to be completed by October. Approximately 30% of workers working on the facility will come from the Antelope Valley.