Limón And Jackson Legislation Opens Critical Access to Mental Health Services at Vista Del Mar Following Thomas Fire Damage

Friday, March 23, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, March 23, 2018

CONTACT: Denise Tugade
916-319-2037 or 
Denise.Tugade@asm.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO — Assembly Bill 417, authored by Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) and co-authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), was signed by Governor Brown today.

“Vista Del Mar is a critically important provider of BOTH inpatient and outpatient mental health services in the region. The loss of both inpatient and outpatient services has had a ripple effect throughout the community. As one of the only providers of adolescent services, it is critical these services come back online as quickly as possible. I am happy the legislature was able to help expedite this process,” said Limón.

AB 417 will allow outpatient behavioral health services to resume, while the hospital’s inpatient services are suspended because of fire damage. Normally the licenses are connected and both services must be provided at a facility simultaneously.

“The Thomas Fire not only devastated lives and homes, but also an essential medical facility, Vista Del Mar. The much needed mental health services they provided were lost at a critical time, leaving vulnerable populations throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara counties at risk,” said Jackson. “This bill provides an important fix that will make a big difference in many people’s lives.”

The Thomas Fire burned about 281,900 acres, destroying 1063 structures, and damaging another 280 buildings. It was the largest fire in California history. Among those structures were two buildings at Aurora Vista del Mar, an acute psychiatric hospital located in Ventura County. Vista Del Mar was one of the largest private psychiatric hospitals in the region. Its closure resulted in the loss of 75% of all available psychiatric beds in the county and 100% of the adolescent beds on the Central Coast. As Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties continue to rebuild and recover from the Thomas Fire, and as the counties are evacuating from another storm, a critical gap in the mental health community is one step closer to being filled.

“The impact of restoring these services in our community will provide a life-saving resource for our friends and neighbors who are going through mental health challenges and seeking treatment in an area that can no longer provide this care in the aftermath of the Thomas Fire,” said Vista del Mar Hospital CEO Jenifer Nyhuis. “We are extremely grateful for the unyielding dedication and support provided by Assemblymember Limón, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, and the countless others who assisted in order to pass this critical bill.”

AB 417 passed off the Assembly and Senate Floors with bipartisan support and no opposition. It has an urgency clause which allowed it to go into effect immediately after being signed by Governor Brown.

Monique Limón represents the 37th Assembly District which includes Santa Barbara, Ventura, Goleta, Carpinteria, Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Buellton, Solvang, Summerland, Isla Vista, Montecito and parts of Oxnard. She currently serves as Chair of the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee.

###