BEHAVIORAL HEALTH: Ventura County’s Director Welcomes Challenges
After narrowly receiving the nod last week from the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, David Gudeman said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that as the new director of the county's mental health department, he welcomes the scrutiny of his critics and intimates that all the attention will pave the way to "create a well-running system." The 39-year-old former interim director has already come under fire on three fronts, with critics charging that he "is a mouthpiece for his boss, Health Care Agency Director Pierre Durand," that he lacks the experience to push the beleaguered department forward and that his appointment came before supervisors conducted a nationwide search to fill the position. But Gudeman denies that he is Durand's "puppet," maintaining he will be "unflappable" in taking the helm of the department and its $50 million budget, and plans to emphasize the medical treatment of the mentally ill. "Medication development has intensified, and new medications are coming on line almost monthly," he said, noting that after patients are stabilized, social workers will come in and provide job assistance. As interim director, Gudeman already hired a new housing specialist to help streamline the department's long term housing plan, and he also crafted "an ambitious $3 million housing proposal, which includes providing a 30-bed facility for the mentally ill" (Johnson, 6/14).="http:> This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.