The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a plan for a less-expensive behavioral health facility at Alvarado Hospital Medical Center in central San Diego.
According to board Chairman Nathan Fletcher’s office, the facility will provide additional services related to mental health and addiction treatment. When opened in late 2023, the Central Regional Behavioral Health Hub will feature 44 new acute inpatient beds, a crisis stabilization unit and an emergency psychiatric unit.
Along with an agreement creating the facility, supervisors approved $3 million in architectural design improvements to the Alvarado facility. If negotiations are successful, the county purchasing and contracting department director may also enter into a single-source contract with the hospital to treat Medi-Cal patients.
The plan “will allow us to bring online the services we envisioned for the Central Regional Behavioral Health Hub much faster,” Fletcher said in a statement. “It also gives us the ability to create greater capacity across the entire system, because it frees up our resources and allows us to provide more post-acute and long-term care services throughout the region.”
Located near San Diego State University, Alvarado Hospital will serve as the licensed behavioral health hub operator. The county will provide a health plan, while UC San Diego Health will handle medical oversight.
Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer said all in all, using Alvarado Hospital is a win.
“We’ve all agreed for a long time that this needed to move forward,” she said.
Fletcher said the Alvarado site “is a pivot” from a 2019 proposal to turn a county-owned parcel located on Third Avenue in the Hillcrest neighborhood into a behavioral health facility.
According to Fletcher’s office, it would have cost almost $400 million to develop the Hillcrest site, while the Alvarado project has a price tag of around $130 million.
County staff are now planning to use the Third Avenue site to provide long-term care, and next month will review data on bed capacity for “the right mix of services,” according to Fletcher’s office.
Patty Maysent, CEO of the UCSD Health System, said using Alvarado Hospital “is a very elegant solution to a problem we’ve been trying to solve for some time now.”
She said the new behavioral health hub will “make a big difference in mental health services for the community.”
City News Service contributed to this article.