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Countywide Focus

County Building Psychiatric Hospital

November 03, 1995|ERIC WAHLGREN

Stepping around a giant crane and piles of steel supporting bars, about 50 county officials and health workers Thursday previewed a $7.5-million county psychiatric hospital under construction in Ventura.

The hospital's foundation is poured and the walls are up, but the 31,000-square-foot facility will not be completed until May.

Located next to the Ventura County Medical Center at the northeast corner of Loma Vista Road and Hillmont Avenue, the 43-bed psychiatric hospital will replace an older facility up the street that is lacking in both security and space.

"The building provides the security and environment for care and the staff can spend the time face-to-face with the patients," said Randall Feltman, the county's mental health director.

Feltman said the new building will offer more than four times the space of the existing 7,000-square-foot, 30-bed hospital, where patients now sleep in dormitories, six to a room. The new hospital's three wings will have rooms with one or two beds, allowing mental health workers to better handle patients' needs.

Although the new hospital will feature outdoor areas, a basketball court and a volleyball court, it will also have a full security system, including keyless doors that the staff can unlock with wrist sensors.

The mental health department now serves about 1,900 patients a year, with an average stay of seven days, Feltman said.

The new hospital "will enable us to meet the need," Feltman said. "We go above capacity because there is no other place for people to go."

After the Ventura tour, participants walked through La Posada, a three-building complex being built off Lewis Road near Camarillo that will provide residential housing for mentally ill adults.

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