MLK Mental Health Urgent Care Center Celebration

Jo Helen Graham’s son Mark was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 15 years old. Despite his parents’ efforts to find him ongoing treatment, little has been available to address his mental illness and he has suffered. A barroom brawl years ago landed him in prison when he was 19 – a tragic turn for a young man who desperately needed mental health intervention.

MLK Mental Health Urgent Care Center

“Mark was never able to receive the proper mental health treatment that would have helped him,” Graham said speaking at the ribbon-cutting celebration for the new Mental Health Urgent Care Center on the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus in Willowbrook.

She noted that her son is now out of prison but still suffers from mental health issues. “Jailing and warehousing our mentally ill is a human tragedy. But I am optimistic about the road ahead because of centers like this one.”

The newly refurbished two-story, 8,000-square-foot facility, which opened September 4,  is the latest milestone towards the completion of a wellness community on the MLK Medical Campus that brings preventive and emergency care services to the region.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas celebrates the new center.

“The opening of this center is part of a broader countywide drive to expand access to mental health services and substance abuse treatment for all those in need, particularly those at risk of incarceration,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who spearheaded the effort to bring the urgent care center to the MLK campus. “Facilities like this will be most effective in promoting rehabilitation and reducing recidivism.”

The center is a one-stop shop for families, individuals and law enforcement to bring a person suffering acute distress or an episode related to mental illness. Patients will receive a variety of services including psychiatric evaluation and assessment, crisis intervention, substance abuse counseling and medication support from an on-site team of experts from the county’s departments of mental health, social services, health services and public health. Adults will have a separate wing, divided by gender. Twelve to 17-year-olds will be admitted into a separate wing of the center. While there is an emphasis on serving the indigent and Medi-Cal patients, no one will be turned away.

Data has shown that nearly 50 percent of the patients in the former King/Drew Emergency Room had primary or secondary mental health issues. The Urgent Care Center provides a more cost effective and humane way to treat people with mental illness.

Although there are 15 medical professionals on staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is not a sterile, cold and clinical setting. In fact, with its wood laminate floors, soothing yellow walls, cozy sleeping chairs and clean bathrooms, in the recovery area,it is more like a nice family living room where patients can stay for up to 24 hours.

Community leaders and elected officials celebrate.

“Twenty-four hours a day, you can bring in your loved one in,” said Luana Murphy, President/CEO of Exodus Recovery and Exodus Foundation for Recovery, which will operate the center. “Services here will be integrated. After they are discharged, no one will be sent to the street. We will have a plan.”

The Urgent Care Center will play an important role in the county’s efforts to redirect mentally ill offenders away from jails, where people with untreated illnesses currently constitute a substantial portion of the population.

Terri McDonald, Assistant Sheriff, Los Angeles County Sheriff Department

Terri McDonald, Assistant Sheriff, Los Angeles County Sheriff Department

“It takes a village and mentally ill citizens are some of our most vulnerable,” said Terri McDonald, assistant sheriff of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “We can be proud of this step forward in reducing our reliance on jails to deal with our mentally ill.”

The center will be run by Exodus Foundation for Recovery, which has been providing psychiatric services in Southern California since 1989. The urgent care center brings additional medical services to the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center Campus, which already include the MLK Outpatient Center and Center for Public Health. The hospital is scheduled to open next year.

“Today, we move one step closer to the MLK Medical Campus we’ve been waiting for,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Director of Community and Integrated Programs for the Department of Health Services, noting that the center is a model of recovery and urgent care for mental health centers throughout the region.“It is this image that makes me excited to be here today as we look forward to the services Exodus will provide with its many campus partners for years to come.”

 

 

New MLK Mental Health Center Now Open

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Jo Helen Graham’s son Mark was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 15 years old. Despite his parents’ efforts to find him ongoing treatment, little has been available to address his mental illness and he has suffered. A barroom brawl years ago landed him in prison when he was 19 – a tragic turn for a young man who desperately needed mental health intervention.

MLK Mental Health Urgent Care Center

“Mark was never able to receive the proper mental health treatment that would have helped him,” Graham said speaking at the ribbon-cutting celebration for the new Mental Health Urgent Care Center on the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus in Willowbrook.

She noted that her son is now out of prison but still suffers from mental health issues. “Jailing and warehousing our mentally ill is a human tragedy. But I am optimistic about the road ahead because of centers like this one.”

The newly refurbished two-story, 8,000-square-foot facility, which opened September 4,  is the latest milestone towards the completion of a wellness community on the MLK Medical Campus that brings preventive and emergency care services to the region.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas celebrates the new center.

“The opening of this center is part of a broader countywide drive to expand access to mental health services and substance abuse treatment for all those in need, particularly those at risk of incarceration,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who spearheaded the effort to bring the urgent care center to the MLK campus. “Facilities like this will be most effective in promoting rehabilitation and reducing recidivism.”

The center is a one-stop shop for families, individuals and law enforcement to bring a person suffering acute distress or an episode related to mental illness. Patients will receive a variety of services including psychiatric evaluation and assessment, crisis intervention, substance abuse counseling and medication support from an on-site team of experts from the county’s departments of mental health, social services, health services and public health. Adults will have a separate wing, divided by gender. Twelve to 17-year-olds will be admitted into a separate wing of the center. While there is an emphasis on serving the indigent and Medi-Cal patients, no one will be turned away.

Data has shown that nearly 50 percent of the patients in the former King/Drew Emergency Room had primary or secondary mental health issues. The Urgent Care Center provides a more cost effective and humane way to treat people with mental illness.

Although there are 15 medical professionals on staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is not a sterile, cold and clinical setting. In fact, with its wood laminate floors, soothing yellow walls, cozy sleeping chairs and clean bathrooms, in the recovery area,it is more like a nice family living room where patients can stay for up to 24 hours.

Community leaders and elected officials celebrate.

“Twenty-four hours a day, you can bring in your loved one in,” said Luana Murphy, President/CEO of Exodus Recovery and Exodus Foundation for Recovery, which will operate the center. “Services here will be integrated. After they are discharged, no one will be sent to the street. We will have a plan.”

The Urgent Care Center will play an important role in the county’s efforts to redirect mentally ill offenders away from jails, where people with untreated illnesses currently constitute a substantial portion of the population.

Terri McDonald, Assistant Sheriff, Los Angeles County Sheriff Department

Terri McDonald, Assistant Sheriff, Los Angeles County Sheriff Department

“It takes a village and mentally ill citizens are some of our most vulnerable,” said Terri McDonald, assistant sheriff of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “We can be proud of this step forward in reducing our reliance on jails to deal with our mentally ill.”

The center will be run by Exodus Foundation for Recovery, which has been providing psychiatric services in Southern California since 1989. The urgent care center brings additional medical services to the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center Campus, which already include the MLK Outpatient Center and Center for Public Health. The hospital is scheduled to open next year.

“Today, we move one step closer to the MLK Medical Campus we’ve been waiting for,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Director of Community and Integrated Programs for the Department of Health Services, noting that the center is a model of recovery and urgent care for mental health centers throughout the region.“It is this image that makes me excited to be here today as we look forward to the services Exodus will provide with its many campus partners for years to come.”

 

 

Mental Health Center Coming to MLK Campus

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Join Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, health leaders and the community August 27 for a ribbon cutting celebration for the new Mental Health Urgent Care Center (UCC) at the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus. The Mental Health Center is near the recently opened MLK Outpatient Center and the new hospital, which is scheduled to open next summer.

The new mental health urgent care center, which will open its doors September 4, will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will offer a variety of services including psychiatric evaluation and assessment, crisis intervention, medication support and medication management. In addition, individuals and families can receive treatment, alcohol and drug counseling and prevention, domestic violence screening and referrals to other community resources where people can seek help.

Too many people in Los Angeles County are in desperate need of psychiatric services and yet too few places are available to help. Hospital emergency rooms have become ground zero for psychiatric patients in need of help—making it a very expensive way to treat people with psychiatric problems.

The center will be run by Exodus Foundation for Recovery, which has been providing quality behavioral health services to disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders and chronic physical health issues. The organization has developed and established several hospital based inpatient and outpatient programs, a psychiatric and internal medicine provider group and a behavioral health managed care company.

While there is an emphasis on serving the indigent and Medi-Cal patients, no one will be turned away. Anyone over the age of 13 will be accepted but adolescents will be served in a separate space from the adults.

“These are the kinds of services people need to get back on their feet,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “I am looking forward to opening this center as well as watching Exodus continue to build strong ties to community centers, faith-based organizations and housing resources to help those in need and at risk.”

Life Saving App Now Available

Everyday Heroes Needed

Roslyn de la Torre was on her way to work when she saw a crowd gathered around a man who had collapsed of an apparent heart attack on the sidewalk. A registered nurse, de la Torre got out of her car and immediately began giving the man CPR. Within 4 minutes, the paramedics arrived but it may well have been de la Torre’s quick actions that saved Elbert Kirby’s life. With a person suffering a heart attack, the first two minutes can determine life or death.

“It’s amazing that CPR is the reason I am here today,” said Kirby, a 50-year volunteer with the American Red Cross.

This narrow window of timing in which life can hang in the balance, is why Los Angeles County officials have launched PulsePoint, the “AMBER alert for cardiac arrest victims.”

When a person is in cardiac distress and a call is made to 911, one of the five public safety communications centers in the county activates the app which sends an alert on the phone and gives a GPS location at the same time that local fire and emergency responders are notified.  It was developed by PulsePoint Foundation, a San Francisco based organization that is building applications for public safety agencies, and supported by the Wireless Foundation, a nonprofit that includes several wireless provider companies that support wireless innovation and initiatives

PulsePoint2

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, Mrs. Elbert Kirby, Mr. Elbert Kirby, Roslyn de la Torre, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the event.

Celebrating its launch, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Fire Chief Daryl Osby joined de la Torre and Kirby as well as the app founder in Inglewood joined together for the official release.

“Simply put, this app is really a life-saving opportunity,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Now qualified responders can do their part to help a heart attack victim. It is a great resource for all county residents.”

The app, which is free, is available for both iPhone and Android phones. More than 13,000 people in the county have already downloaded PulsePoint but county officials hope more residents take part.

“Mobile technology can help us build and safer, more resilient community,” said Chief Osby.

Added de la Torre, who is now friends with Kirby and his wife, “A few minutes can make a difference in saving someone’s life.”

For more information on CPR classes throughout LA County, residents can call (323) 881-2411 or email info@fire.lacounty.gov.

Board of Supervisors Anticipates a Strong Diversion Plan for Mentally Ill Inmates

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Los Angeles County has both the largest inmate population of any county in the nation and the largest population of mentally ill people who are incarcerated. While the Board has adopted a $2 billion-jail master plan to demolish Men’s Central Jail, modernize Mira Loma Detention Center for women and construct a new two-tower Correctional Treatment Facility, that plan, however, does not allocate funding to create much-needed alternatives to incarceration for mentally ill inmates.

“Jails are no place for our mentally ill to receive help,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who called for the county to set aside $20 million to create a robust diversion plan. “We can and we must do more. We have heard from many individuals and experts and they have asked us to improve the outcome for individuals with mental illness as well as save money for the county. A diversion plan is an essential component to making our society better.”

All five board members say they fully support the creation of a strong diversion program that would redirect mentally ill offenders away from county jails, where they currently constitute a substantial portion of the population, to treatment programs. To that end, the Supervisors decided to discuss funding a diversion in September, when District Attorney Jackie Lacey is scheduled to present a plan for Los Angeles County.

Much of the board meeting on Tuesday, July 29, however, was devoted to the testimony of advocates, residents and parents of mentally ill persons calling for the board to act.

As Jo Helen Graham , a mother whose son suffers from mental illness noted in her testimony before the board Tuesday, “Why do we accept jails and prisons as surrogate mental health hospitals for our mentally ill citizens and loved ones rather than build (as the prison industry does) clinics and hospitals to care for the treatment of the mentally ill?”

A strong diversion plan would likely include training for law enforcement and emergency services providers, preventive services for those who may be at risk of getting arrested, offer post-arrest alternatives to incarceration and programs that would help former inmates re-enter society after they are released, such as job training. This plan would work in collaboration with the District Attorney, the courts, law enforcement, mental health, substance abuse and health providers and other key players to make sure it is coordinated and comprehensive.

Lawrence Foy, policy director for A New Way of Life, a nonprofit, noted that funding diversion will put Los Angeles County “on a clear path to providing a comprehensive approach to ameliorating a growing and festering crisis among those faced with mental illness.”

The U.S. Department of Justice recently reported that inadequate supervision and deplorable environmental conditions deprive Los Angeles County jail inmates of constitutionally-required mental health care.

Other cities throughout the country have seen impressive results with their diversion programs, including New York City’s Nathaniel Project with a reported 70 percent reduction in arrests over a two-year period; Chicago’s Thresholds program with an 89 percent reduction in arrests, 86 percent reduction in jail time, and a 76 percent reduction in hospitalization for program participants; and Seattle’s FACT program with a 45 percent reduction in jail and prison bookings.

LETTERS OF SUPPORT