County Pulse: Stanislaus County is close to opening psychiatric health facility in Ceres

kcarlson@modbee.comFebruary 21, 2014 

    alternate textKen Carlson
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: County government, health and medicine, air quality, the environment and public pension systems
    Bio: Ken Carlson has worked 13 years for The Bee, covering local government agencies in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. His in-depth reporting has focused on access to health care and public employee pensions.
    Recent stories written by Ken

A dedication and open house for Stanislaus County’s psychiatric health facility in Ceres is set for Tuesday.

The 16-bed care facility is designed for short-term stays for patients in emotional crisis. It will provide a less intensive level of care than at the privately owned Doctors Behavioral Health Center on Claus Road.

The center on Richland Avenue is expected to start receiving patients March 3.

Officials expect the increase in mental health inpatient beds will relieve crowding in hospital emergency rooms, where people in crisis wait for evaluation and transfer to an appropriate facility.

The Ceres facility also could reduce the county’s annual costs of mental health inpatient services for Medi-Cal recipients. In 2012, the county was responsible for about 40 emergency inpatient admissions per day, double the historic average and adding $5 million to the yearly costs of hospitalizing the patients at DBHC or facilities outside the area.

In a $2.43 million project, the county renovated a building at Stanislaus Recovery Center for the new facility. In August, supervisors approved a $6.17 million contract with Telecare Corp. to operate the center from March through June 2015. Then the contract could be renewed.

The public is invited to Tuesday’s dedication, which will feature guest speakers, refreshments and tours of the facility. The event is from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at 1904 Richland Ave.

La Grange petition

Knights Ferry residents signaled support for the historic zoning district for their town when the county recently made some changes to it.

People in La Grange, however, have been hitting the imaginary “dislike” button for the historic zoning rules for the settlement on Highway 132, near the eastern border of Stanislaus County. Late last year, they circulated a petition asking that the zoning for the Gold Rush town return to agriculture.

Signed by 45 residents and property owners, it was presented to the county Planning Commission on Dec. 19. Residents also made their request to the Board of Supervisors earlier this month.

Speakers raised concerns about emergency response and apparent restrictions on owners who may want to improve residential and commercial properties. Outside of the frozen-in-time downtown area, La Grange’s residential areas are not historic and some people live in mobile homes, one resident said.

Those wanting to shed the historic zoning suggest that county restrictions are not essential to preserving the landmarks of La Grange. No less than nine sites, such as Kingen Hotel, La Grange Schoolhouse and the old stage stop, are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Some residents believe the federal listings are enough to protect the landmarks. County planners directed staff to work with the residents. A report is due in March.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at or (209) 578-2321.

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