New inpatient mental health recovery sites open to the public

May 17, 2024 /

Two new 24-hour facilities opened on May 15, 2024, for adult and youth psychiatric inpatient services. The grand opening was hosted by Kern County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (KernBHRS), and future staff were attending to answer questions.

Both buildings can provide beds to 16 individuals on a referral basis. The contractor Telecare manages the Adult Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF). Central Star Behavioral Health manages the youth building. Service providers at both locations utilize a referral system from crisis centers like Mary Kay Shell Mental Health Center or a hospital. The buildings are locked for safety. 

“These two psychiatric healthcare facilities have been thoughtfully designed to create a safe and therapeutic environment, and include beautiful open spaces, outside courtyards, and a welcoming environment for both patients and visitors,” said Alison Burrowes, Director of KernBHRS.

Both facilities are free for Medi-Cal patients. 

After the events speeches and pictures participants were allowed to tour both facilities. There was a lot of natural light as a result of a multitude of windows. In the adult building, there were murals on many of the outdoor walls in the courtyard and recreation field. The small field dedicated to activities and lounging is accompanied by a basketball hoop and a meditative walk pattern on the floor. Each space has clear views of the outside. 

Ages 5-17 will stay at the Kern Youth PHF. Currently, Parents and Caregivers are allowed visiting hours and are given resources during the time of their dependent’s short-term care to encourage a continuous stream of support even at home. The Family Handbook Central Star provides is in English and Spanish.  

The new buildings are located at 718 and 702 Workman Street. It is a few blocks away from the California 58 freeway, accessible from Zephyr Lane, South Oswell Street, or South Fairfax Road. It’s under four miles from Mary Kay Shell.

A PHF typically serves individuals coming from crisis stabilization units. Patients coming through the program are estimated to only stay 3-10 days on average for short-term care. 

Patients deemed code “51/50” or who are suicidal or a harm to themselves or others can be involuntarily held. According to staff they also take patients based on a case-by-case mentality and are welcoming to voluntary participation in the inpatient treatment. The Telecare staff stated that they do not use force on any patients. All physical health check-ups and treatments happen outside of the Telecare facility with a primary doctor or hospital including any recording of untreated wounds, old bruises, tattoos, and piercings.

Unfortunately, both buildings do not accommodate those who need medical detoxes from addictive or illegal substances, and the property is a drug-free zone. 

Telecare, which helps treat the adult population, urges individuals to be drug-free throughout the short-term treatment process so that any medication administered by them can work more effectively.

“Our psychiatrist will actually schedule the medications to be given at waking hours…I believe the last medication administration should be 9 p.m.- latest 10 p.m. So we can help them sleep through the night because sleeping is actually a big part of the recovery,” stated Charles Yatco, RN Supervisor for Kern PHF Telecare. 

Yatco shared with Kern Sol News that he made the change to work at the new facility because of how client and staff-centered it was. He mentioned that not only were the client beds spaced out with doors, but that staff offices also had enough space to accommodate a variety of issues if they ever arise. 

The two buildings’ walk-through tour allowed the public to see where their community would sleep, eat, exercise, relax, and engage in activities during short-term care. Chefs from both management groups had on display the menu options with food that is planned to be served during operational hours. Kids and teens will be served fresh fruit with mousse for dessert, and adults will have a salmon dish and other high-end dishes. Patients can ask for snacks between meal times.

“As you go through your recovery journey if you like this kind of work you can become a peer support specialist and come do the work with us, and that’s the most powerful thing that full circle,” said Jennifer Hinkel, Vice President of Development for Telecare. “So our goal here is to hire people who have been through here.”

Hinkel stated that it’s unfortunate that older buildings in the Telecare network can not benefit from the funding this new project received. Despite this, her staff still provides a quality and healing environment for patients. She claimed that the patient-to-staff feedback loop helps support their mission to give quality care. 

“There’s always somebody there to provide services. I think that’s the power of a 24/7 facility, you don’t get to calculate when you’re going to have a mental challenge just like a health challenge you have the ER that’s open 24/7,” Hinkel said. 

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