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New Mental Health Center in the Works

Some available space as part of the Marian Medical Center expansion in Santa Maria, could help solve some mental health care problems.The county is considering a consolidated mental health site, with psychiatric care, and treatment for substance abuse.The plan was suggested by Supervisor Steve Lavagnino after a meeting in the North County that included hospital officials.”These are very, very, very stressful times. The need for our community for mental health treatment is only going to increase,” said Suzanne Riorden with the Families Act organization. “I do believe our hospitals have a moral obligation if not a legal obligation to serve this particular population.”Marian Medical Center CEO Chuck Cova told the Board of Supervisors, the building being considered for the mental health center is “pretty well defined,” to separate the various services that will be offered.Public Defender Deedrea Edgar urged the county to act swiftly on the project and the next step which includes a financial analysis. “We talk a lot about public safety and where are the public officials? This is public safety,” she said. “People have been suffering daily in our courts, languishing in our jails and out on the streets of our public,” said Edgar who supports the project as a way of solving many problems with treatment before there’s a worse result from the lack of mental health care.KEY News Senior Reporter John Palminteri has the story.

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