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Critically needed new mental health facility set to open in Ventura County

KCLU News Photo
A new mental health facility in Santa Paula called Jackson House will help people transition from hospital stays back into the community.

Center in Santa Paula will help people transition from hospital stays back into the community.

People are walking through what looks like the community room of a college residence hall, with sofas and a TV.

But, this renovated building in Santa Paula is part of an effort to address a major problem, the lack of facilities for people who need a specific level of around the clock mental health care.

Jackson House is what’s known as a Crisis Residential Treatment Facility. Dr. John Schipper, with Ventura County’s Behavioral Health Department, says it helps someone hospitalized for mental health issues start the transition back to living in the community.

"We think of it as a continuum of care. The highest level is inpatient," said Schipper. "The CRT is for a lot of people the next logical step down, the next rung on the ladder if you will."

The nearly 500 square foot, 16 bed facility tries to create a homelike atmosphere while providing psychiatric support for those transitioning out of hospitals. It looks like the inside of a new contemporary style hotel, with bedrooms, a large community kitchen, a dining room, and private therapy areas.

"The real focus is making it a homelike environment," said Rene Novo. She's with Alvarado Parkway Institute, which partnered with Ventura County to build, and operate Jackson House.

"When people come in, oftentimes they're feeling scared, they're feeling nervous," said Novo. "When you needing treatment and care, that's the last thing we want, for you to shut down. We want you to feel comfortable, at home."

Novo says it’s expected clients might stay in Jackson House for about two weeks. The temporary residents will be able to use their cell phones and computers, get passes to go shopping, and even get rides to job interviews.

During their stays, they’ll get individual and group therapy.

Jackson House is an important new resource for Ventura County. Up until now, the county only had one other facility of this type, at the Ventura County Medical Center. The lack of capacity often meant someone would have to leave the county for a crisis residential treatment facility.

Dr. Schipper says this is part of a larger effort to expand the county’s mental health services.

Jackson House is expecting to welcome its first residents later this month.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.