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Board OKs Oxnard Home for Mental Patients

October 29, 1987|DENISE HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors has approved funding for the county's first short-term home for acutely ill mental patients--scheduled to open next year in a residential area of Oxnard.

The six-bed house, located in the 1600 block of 9th Street, would be a state-licensed, community-care facility where adults with severe psychiatric problems could be treated for up to 14 days and their condition stabilized, said Jack Graham, director of Ventura County's mental health program.

County officials say the program will cost about $400,000 a year--less than half the expense of treating such patients at a hospital.

"We've reached our bed capacity . . . at Camarillo State Hospital, overreached capacity in the psychiatric-care unit" at Ventura County Medical Center, Graham said. "We have people . . . who can't be placed because there's no place available for them."

Oxnard's acute-care facility will be operated by San Francisco-based Progress Foundation, a private, nonprofit company that operates two other halfway homes that provide long-term care for mental patients in Ventura.

The short-term home in Oxnard would allow mental patients who are experiencing an acute psychiatric crisis to receive care and medication for up to two weeks while their condition stabilizes. The patients then would be released to their families, a long-term group home or other care, said Clyde B. Reynolds, Ventura County project director for Progress Foundation.

Searching for Facility

Last year, the Board of Supervisors awarded Progress Foundation about $550,000 to start a 12-bed crisis center for acutely ill mental patients, but the foundation did not use the money because it was unable to locate and lease an appropriate site.

The search for a six-bed facility has been more successful, but Progress Foundation officials say they are proceeding cautiously, mindful of the controversy that engulfed its group-care home on Poli Street in mid-town Ventura earlier this year. That home, bitterly opposed by local residents, was firebombed in May, forcing a five-month closure for repairs. It has since reopened.

To assuage concerns of Oxnard neighbors, crisis-center officials held an open meeting at the Oxnard Community Center on Tuesday evening to explain their plans. Only one neighbor attended the meeting, however, and she voiced no objections to the proposed home.

"I think it could work . . . it would fit right in," said Jeanne Adams, who lives near the proposed site and works at Camarillo State Hospital.

The proposal drew some fire at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting when several residents who live near the Poli Street group-care home voiced objections to the proposed Oxnard facility.

Grant Heil, a spokesman for Neighborhood Coalition for Supervised and Safe Half-Way Houses, accused Progress Foundation of failing to adequately supervise patients. Heil said homes for the mentally ill should not be located in residential areas.

But Reynolds said the Oxnard home will be staffed day and night by 10 counselors and two administrators. Patients will be referred by the psychiatric ward of Ventura County's Medical Center. Reynolds said he expected to sign a year-long lease.

Meanwhile, Progress Foundation is negotiating a lease for a triplex on Mariposa Street in Oxnard that would enable the group to move to larger quarters and house up to 12 patients--the county's original goal.

That lease would be contingent upon the foundation receiving a conditional-use permit from the City of Oxnard, Reynolds said.

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