Kaweah Health partners with Tulare County HHSA to bring 24-hour youth in crisis stabilization unit to county

Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) has been awarded a grant for $4,909,775.60 to partner with Kaweah Health for the creation of a child and adolescent crisis stabilization unit (CSU). The grant from California Health Facilities Financing Authority will allow Kaweah Health to build the first 24-hour site for youth in crisis in Tulare County.

The CSU will provide crisis intervention services for children and youth under age 21, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It will be a 12-bed unit with four private rooms for acutely agitated children and youth, severely mentally ill children and youth, or very young children to separate them for safety. Services will include crisis evaluation, intervention, and stabilization, as well as psychiatric services and discharge care. Care will be given regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

“Mental health and wellness is a major issue in Tulare County. Children are among the most impacted portions of our population, especially as a result of the COVID pandemic,” said Marc Mertz, Kaweah Health’s Chief Strategy Officer. “This tremendous grant will enable Kaweah Health and our partners from the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency to develop and operate a new facility designed specifically for addressing the mental health and wellness needs of our youth. Without this grant funding, the development of this facility would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible.”

“Today, these children are seen in local emergency departments or must leave the community to seek mental health services,” Mertz said. “Far too many of them go untreated. This new facility will ensure that our children can get the mental health support they need – right here in Tulare County. By intervening and treating mental health issues earlier, we hope to avoid future issues or hospitalization and help kids live happier and healthier lives.”

Kaweah Health will staff this new venture thanks in part to its Graduate Medical Education Psychiatry Residency program, added in 2013, and a new Child and Adolescent fellowship added to the program in 2021. The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Training Program’s mission is to train child and adolescent psychiatrists who will positively impact the health of youth and their families in the Central Valley. “Our fellows will be capable of practicing in a variety of settings, with an emphasis on caring for the underserved and in rural communities,” said Program Director Dr. Cory Jaques.

The Psychiatry residency has been successful, with about half of its graduates remaining in the area to practice or get further training. Kaweah Health also has a 60-bed mental health hospital on its West Campus, along with behavioral health treatment options at its Lindsay and Exeter rural health clinics.

The grant funds will be accepted and executed with a grant agreement between Kaweah Health and Tulare County HHSA following approval from the Tulare County Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks.

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