At the Wednesday, Feb 27 meeting of the Measure B Mental Health Advisory Committee, Chair Dr. Ace Barash opened with a bit of actual useful information by saying:
“One of the issues in front of us is the extent of the funds and what we will we will be able to fund in the end. The virtue putting the training facility and the locked facility in the same building is that they are part of what was asked for in the Measure B initiative. The other facility was for housing conserved people. So putting them in the same building would conserve funds to do the things we need to do. One of the things we have to build is a locked facility, a PHF unit. We were looking at other options. One of the options we looked at was the Ukiah Hospital and if their vacated ICU was already occupied. The problem with that is that it is only six beds and the amount of funding would double if we increased that to eight beds which is still on the low side. Another option would be to build a psych hospital in conjunction with the new Howard Hospital which would be very expensive. It would also run into that problem about public money in a privately funded owned building and ownership in the future.. Then the question of cost. While that could be a reasonable partnership, I think the amount of time involved in the expenditure would be on the expensive side and the expense would be higher. You would have the Adventists actually running the facility. We run into another problem and that is that Adventist Health is contemplating building office buildings both in Ukiah and Willits. They are already out on the limb and I don't think they would be very quick to add another expenditure on top of that. So in terms of the facilities, we looked at so far we are left with old Howard Hospital. One of the big problems with the old Howard Hospital is that it's a much bigger facility than we need for simply a psychiatric facility. The idea of putting a training center in the same building with the psych unit helps to solve that problem. Those are both facilities we need to build.”
Deputy CEO Janelle Rau then summarized what the County is starting to do regarding the recent direction to proceed with plans for a Crisis Treatment Center, a Crisis Residential facility and a Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF). In essence, Ms. Rau said that they do not have anyone currently on staff to develop the options and the pros and cons for the possible sites.
A clearly frustrated Sheriff Allman finally seems to have realized that they need to have a project manager, if they can find one, to get the process moving.
“We are stymying the public,” said Allman. “We are in month 14 of this initiative and we have not made any noticeable progress. If we get a manager — first of all, I think it’s impossible to find such a manager, but if one exists, a manager that can understand, if he or she can get a complete understanding of the Kemper Report, a complete understanding of the properties that are available and what the intended use of Measure B funds are, I think now the time is right. We can put this off for another year. We can meet every month and talk and look at each other. I am saying that we have to make a motion forward to get quality service returned to some of these patients. I would love to move fast on this. Whether it's a consultant, or a county employee— the employee is going to cost in the area of $100,000-$150,000 a year when you look at the expectations we have on this person. We need to start looking and find him or her. Let's move. The time is now. We need to ask the Board of Supervisors to allow the CEO’s office to develop the job description and either go out for an RFP or hire a county employee and hold this person accountable and have them at our meetings and understand what our mission is to get moving on this project. … So my motion is to advise the Board of Supervisors that the Measure B Committee recommends that we have a project manager now to assist the committee with what our goals are.”
After some more back and forth, the committee voted unanimously to recommend the hiring of a project manager.
Later the County staff prepared a “Classification Specification” (up for Supes approval on Tuesday) that is so extensive, so demanding, that Sheriff Allman will probably be proven right in his prediction that “it’s impossible to find such a manager.” But leave it to the County to overcomplicate things and drag them out for as long as possible.