Imagine that you’re driving your car near your home in Santa Barbara when you’re involved in a traffic accident through no fault of your own.  Your leg is broken and you are taken to the nearest emergency room. The doctor tells you that you’ll need surgery and a period of intense physical therapy to regain your mobility and freedom, which will involve a period of treatment at an inpatient rehabilitation facility.  “We’ve been able to stabilize your leg and control your pain here,” she says. “Unfortunately all the orthopedic facilities in the county are full so we’re arranging to have you transferred to San Diego County.” It’s something they have to do with about half the county’s orthopedic patients, she explains.  You’ll be more than 200 miles from your friends and family and you will not know how long you’ll be gone.

It sounds like an alarmist story cooked up for a political ad, but it’s the same situation that thousands in Californians find themselves in every year: being thrust into a medical crisis they did nothing to precipitate and then being sent away for treatment their local community cannot provide.  The only thing different is the kind of medical crisis: psychiatric, rather than physical. Psychiatric Health Facilities (“PHFs”) in many places in California are at or beyond capacity and are not able to provide their vital services to people who need intensive mental health services. *Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties each only have one PHF with 16 beds in each, compared to their combined population of more than 730,000.

Because of this general hospitals are forced to try to treat patients that are not appropriate for their facilities and patients have to be taken to far flung places for the care they need.  In fact, both counties currently have budget items for the sole purpose of sending patients to other counties for care rather than receiving treatment near their friends and family in a familiar place, as most of us can expect to be able to do when recovering from a physical injury.  Given that each of us is entirely dependent on its vast and beautiful complexity, it is baffling that we devote so few resources to healing the mind when compared to how much we devote to healing its servant, the body.

In the short term, alternative avenues are shaping the landscape of psychiatry. D’Amore Healthcare is making sure that people who require psychiatric help are able to get it.  Even if they have to go a little farther for residential intensive treatment, it can be provided with caring people who can provide support. In fact, we do so with the First Year Plan so every patient feels a sense of awareness, ownership and direction as to what steps they are taking to improve mood, relationships, cognition, self-trust and behavior. If individuals are in the right place, one that is caring, compassionate and experienced enough to replicate the home environment and provide psychiatric services in a gentle, consistent and loving way, life (physical, mental, social health) changes. For these reasons, medical providers that operate Primary Mental Health facilities, such as D’Amore Healthcare in Orange County, the landscape of psychiatry is starting to look different in Southern California. Patients can get care in Southern California counties that do not have a standard of care that addresses the whole person without the institutional feel. D’Amore provides 24 primary mental health beds. These intensive services are vital to filling a gap that the public health systems have failed to bridge.  Properly licensed Social Rehabilitation Facilities meet most of the same needs as PHFs, while feeling more like home, both in terms of comfort and dignity. D’Amore Healthcare maintains superior staff-to-patient ratios, unique 24 hour support to meet emotional and psychiatric needs and provides varied opportunities for care and activities. Most importantly, they are available to the people who need them and may help to head off the need for later involuntary holds, re-hospitalization after hospitalization and physical decline.

For more information about D’Amore Healthcare and our Primary Mental Health Treatment Programs, please visit call us. We look forward to helping you see a different way to heal and to live. D’Amore is bridging the future of mental health treatment with simple, effective, proven therapies to improve your quality of life. The importance of human dignity to our patients dictates why we serve the heart of Orange County. Many patients cannot access the care they need in our County and surrounding counties. Our standard of care in residential psychiatry is unsurpassed.

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