L.A. County Partnership Would Add 80 Beds for Mental Health
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a proposal to partner with a private mental health corporation to create an 80-bed facility for mentally ill patients, the Los Angeles Times reports. Under the plan, the Royale Health Care Center Inc. would purchase an empty hospital in Mission Viejo for $5 million and would operate the new facility. In turn, the county would enter a "lease-purchase agreement" in which it would pay the facility's monthly rent of $58,229, utilities, taxes and maintenance costs for 20 years (a total of roughly $14 million), after which it would have the option to buy the facility for $100. State funds would cover 83% of the costs, with the remainder coming from tobacco settlement funds. Of the 80 new beds, 65 would be in a mental health rehabilitation center and 15 would be in a psychiatric health facility. Howard Sutter, a spokesperson for the Health Care Agency, said the agreement would help to reduce the number of mental health patients, currently 274, housed outside the county. Sutter added that the county in recent years has wanted to build its own facility but did not have enough money. The county currently contracts with two companies, including Royale, to provide 173 beds for mental health patients, a supply that is surpassed by the demand of low-income and Medi-Cal enrollees. While the Times reports that from 1994 to 1998, Royale allegedly violated state regulations 10 times and was assessed $32,000 in fines, Sutter said that the company has improved its staff training and that its existing Santa Ana facility has "passed a county agency review" (Reyes, Los Angeles Times, 3/19).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.