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Long Sought New Inpatient Mental Health Rehabilitation Facility Opens In Santa Barbara County


It’s a parent’s nightmare.  You send your son off to college, and he has a mental health crisis:

That’s the situation Tom and Leslie Franklin of Solvang faced.  But, to make matters worse, Santa Barbara County didn’t have a mental health inpatient rehabilitation facility.  Their son ended up in Los Angeles County.  That type of situation has finally changed in the county.

It’s been an issue in Santa Barbara County for decades, because setting up an inpatient mental health rehabilitation facility is a very expensive project.  So, families found their loved ones in places like LA, Bakersfield, or even in some cases Northern California.

Suzanne Grimmesey is with the Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness.   She says that situation changed this week, with the opening of the county’s first ever mental health rehabilitation facility.

The Champion’s Healing Center in Lompoc is a 34 bed facility serving as a steppingstone for people under inpatient mental health care to return to life in the community.  The center will provide therapeutic, vocational, and independent living support.  With about 100 people currently placed out of county, the new facility could fill up quickly.

Franklin says its now been 11 year since his son plunged into crisis.  While the county didn’t have a rehabilitation facility at the time, he’s excited to see one opening now for other local families which might find themselves in the same situation.  His son is now doing well, living independently in the community.

Santa Barbara County has a contract with Crestwood Behavioral Health to operate the Lompoc facility.   The company already provides behavioral health services for the county, as well as around the state.

Plans also call for the county to offer expanded services as the center.  And, while Champion’s Healing Center is opening with 34 beds, it is positioned to eventually expand out to 80 to help meet the needs of families in the county.

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.