San Bernardino County To Combine Inpatient, Outpatient Mental Health Services
San Bernardino County has combined inpatient and outpatient mental health services under a single county Department of Behavioral Health manager, interim county administrative officer Mark Uffer said Tuesday, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. The county's inpatient mental health services had been managed by Arrowhead Regional Medical Center since 1999, when the county Department of Behavioral Health was criticized for mistreating patients. Uffer said that the move is part of a plan to consolidate mental health, public health and hospital operations under a single county health agency. Uffer said that the move is intended to improve services to the public and save the county money, adding that it would take about $2 million and six months to combine all of the county's public health services into one agency. Uffer said that many people who come to the county for mental health counseling have other health issues and that many of those who come to county public health offices for medical services may have mental health needs, the Press-Enterprise reports. Uffer does not know how much the consolidation would save the county, but he said that the county could save money by licensing the mental and public health departments to purchase prescription drugs at the same prices available to county hospitals and by combining offices.
Doris Turner, president of the San Bernardino chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, said that Uffer "has jumped in and in a very cavalier manner is sending out letters and terminating contracts without that much input from the actual mental health community and from employees." Uffer said that consolidating county health services would not "dismantle the mental health component," adding that such allegations are "rumor and speculation" (McNary, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 5/19).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.