SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. – Community members, healthcare leaders, County supervisors and staff on Wednesday celebrated the groundbreaking of a first-of-its-kind facility in the South Bay: a state-of-the-art Behavioral Health Center that will offer mental health services close to home for children, adolescents and adults.
“This is the kind of acute care facility we’ve long needed in Santa Clara County for young people in crisis — a sanctuary where they can safely begin to heal, close to home,” said County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who chairs the County’s Health and Hospital Committee and who first proposed the new facility in June 2015. “It’s clearly better for these kids to be close to their community when they’re in crisis — close to their family, their friends, and their own local health mental health providers. This is about troubled teens at risk of doing damage to themselves or others; this is about families, struggling through the hardest thing they’ll ever face, and being torn apart at precisely the time they need to be together,” said Simitian. “This goes to the heart of community health and wellness.”
The new center will include the first County-operated inpatient facility specifically for children and adolescents in need of behavioral health care – as well a separate floor for adults – with inpatient and outpatient medical and psychiatric care, emergency psychiatric services, intake and assessment, crisis care, and urgent care.
“It will be an absolute boon to some of the County’s most vulnerable young people, allowing them to receive care close to home, close to loved ones,” said Board of Supervisors President Susan Ellenberg. “This new, higher level of care and support in one place will go far in providing the best outcomes for the people we serve.”
The groundbreaking event on Wednesday signaled the official start of construction on the $422 million Child, Adolescent, and Adult Behavioral Health Services Center on the SCVMC campus in San José. The new 207,000 sq. ft. facility is expected to be completed by fall 2025.
“This truly is a dream long in the making,” said Paul Lorenz, CEO of Santa Clara Valley Healthcare. “This is an example of how we achieve our goal of providing better health for all. It will increase access to care by making so many services available under one roof with state-of-the-art design and equipment. And it will offer better value and service through early interventions that can help avoid hospitalization during long-term care.”
Rovina Nimbalkar, Executive Director of the Santa Clara County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, called the center a welcome and crucial new advancement for mental health treatment in the South Bay.
“This new center provides something that NAMI’s members have long looked forward to – easier access to life-changing services,” Nimbalkar said. “Now our youth can get the help they need close to home, close to the support networks they have and need to achieve better mental health.”
Currently, access to child and adolescent inpatient psychiatric facilities in Santa Clara County is limited. The new facility will provide the first County-operated acute inpatient care for an underserved population. For many years, children and adolescents who needed short-term psychiatric hospitalization have been sent to facilities as far away as Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, and even Sacramento counties, far from the support of family, caregivers, and their own behavioral care team.
“Separating these kids from their families at one of the toughest times in their lives, that’s just hell on them. I’m worried, frankly, that the specter of long-distance treatment currently deters kids and families from seeking the help they need in the first place,” said Supervisor Simitian.
When the Board approved the construction of the new center in 2017, 689 Santa Clara County youth were admitted to out-of-area psychiatric hospitals, staying for an average of six days in facilities often far away from home.
The future facility will be unique in that it will house multiple programs under one roof, providing one centralized location to support the needs of everyone who relies on the County for this level of care. The center will consolidate and integrate behavioral health services now provided elsewhere throughout the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center campus into a new building with:
• 77 in-patient beds, including 14 beds for children and 21 beds for adolescents
• Emergency Psychiatric Services for children and adolescents
• Mental Health Urgent Care for children and adolescents
• 42 adult inpatient psychiatric beds and services, Emergency Psychiatric Services, and Urgent Care Services in a separate, secured part of the building
• A pharmacy
• A new parking structure
About the County of Santa Clara Health System
The County of Santa Clara Health System is the second-largest County-owned health and hospital system in California and is committed to improving the health of the 1.8 million residents of Santa Clara County. As an integrated health care system, the Health System comprises Santa Clara Valley Healthcare’s public hospitals and clinics, Behavioral Health Services Department, Public Health Department, Custody Health, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and Valley Health Plan.