State Senator Mike McGuire and Assembly member Jim Wood have endorsed the plan for a crisis respite facility in Fort Bragg. Item 5e on the September 28thh Board of Supervisors’ agenda addresses the recommended action of annually spending $240,000 of Measure B funds over a four year period to contribute to the operation of crisis respite services in the City of Fort Bragg.
The letter of support from the state senator and member of the assembly was originally sent to Fort Bragg’s Mayor, Bernie Norvell, on September 20. It has been forwarded to the Supervisors as part of the supporting material for the September 28 meeting.
McGuire and Wood’s correspondence states, “We are writing to you in support of Fort Bragg’s request for funding from the Mental Health Treatment Act Citizens Oversight Committee [Measure B Committee] to establish a Crisis Respite Facility and Services Center that will serve residents of the Mendocino County Coast.
As you have pointed out, there is currently only one Crisis Respite program in Mendocino County, which is located in the greater Ukiah area. Another is under construction that will also be located in Ukiah. Not only is accessing either inland Crisis Respite both difficult and impractical for coastal residents, it creates major obstacles to establishing the essential ongoing relationship between clients and the post-crisis team that is vital for recovery.
“We agree that the Crisis Respite that Fort Bragg is proposing will offer a safe, comforting environment for individuals who are experiencing a temporary mental health crisis that may be severe but not life threatening. We think it is significant that the respite would be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide immediate services and support to an individual in crisis without the need for admission to a psychiatric hospital.
“The success of Madrone House, the inland Crisis Respite has demonstrated how well this approach
works, and we concur that offering a Crisis Respite Facility and Services Center located in or near the City of Fort Bragg would have enormous benefits for coastal residents. Furthermore, funding the establishment of this kind of facility seems like just what the voters had in mind when they passed Measure B.
“Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to show our support for the project.”
This coastal crisis respite will be located at 516 Cypress Street, Fort Bragg, on the hospital campus now run as Adventist Health Mendocino Coast. As such it is only a few hundred feet from the emergency room (ER). In the past it has served as an office for orthopedic surgeons, a human resources (HR) office, and in 2010 it was re-zoned to also accommodate the housing of ambulance crew members on multi-day shifts. As such, no change in zoning regulations is needed to convert to a crisis respite facility. Adventist Health has promised a new home for the ambulance crew.
On August 26, the board of directors of the Mendocino Coast Health Care District, in a unanimous 5-0 vote, approved a sublease between Adventist Health and Redwood Community Services (RCS) for the 516 Cypress property. A day earlier, the Measure B Committee approved the funding expenditure for the coastal crisis respite project by an 8-0 vote.
Fort Bragg Mayor Norvell has been the guiding force behind the project. He pushed for the involvement of Redwood Community Services (RCS) as the service provider, ultimately agreeing with the decision to start with a crisis respite program which could build to a fuller scale crisis residential treatment facility in a few years.
Though services such as this have long been on the mind of many coastal residents, the root of the current plan dates to early in 2020 when a coastal citizen invited an expert in crisis residential treatment facilities to speak to a group that included Fort Bragg City Council members Norvell and Morsell-Haye, Supervisor Ted Williams, the chair of the coast healthcare district, Adventist Health (AH) administrators Jason Wells and Judson Howe, and Dr. Ace Barash, from AH’s Howard Hospital as well as a member of the Measure B Committee. Supervisor Dan Gjerde was invited, but chose not to attend.
That February 3, 2020 gathering took place at 516 Cypress Street in Fort Bragg. The meeting proved a catalyst. The citizen who organized it brokered a mutual introduction between Mayor Norvell and Camille Schraeder, the major figure behind Redwood Quality Management Company (RQMC) and RCS. Despite some early mutual wariness, these two, Norvell and Schraeder, deserve major credit for continuing to move the crisis respite project forward.
The overall annual operating cost for this 24/7/365 crisis respite program is projected at $600,000. The $244,000 from Measure B would cover the cost of Medi-Cal Match, non-billable services, those with commercial insurance or Medicare, and those with no insurance. It is projected that Medi-Cal or other funding sources will pay the remaining annual operating cost of $360,000. Over the next four years, additional funding streams will be explored, including grants, to sustain the program in the long run.