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HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY

MENTAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT

REASON FOR REVIEW

Penal Code Section 925 authorizes the Grand Jury to conduct inquiries into the operations, accounts and records of officers, departments or functions of the County.

BACKGROUND

The Mental Health Department (MHD), a branch of the Health and Human Services Agency, has operated in the County for 25 years. Employees include 5 clerical, one of which is the office administrator, and 5 mental health workers. A registered nurse is shared with the Public Health Department. A contract psychiatrist has been on staff since 1990.

The lack of a psychiatrist, living in the County, and the disagreement of the department to the recommendations of the 1996-1997 Amador County Grand Jury, influenced the 1999-2000 Grand Jury to include this department in this year's routine review.

METHODOLOGY

Persons interviewed:

  1. Director, Health and Human Services Agency
  2. Program Director, Mental Health Department

FACTS

  1. Psychiatric assistance is available on a weekly visit basis with consultation available on a 24 hour basis.
  2. The 1996-1997 Amador County Grand Jury recommendation of "direct 24 hour phone service between clients and therapist", has been resolved by the use of beepers carried by all mental health workers.
  3. All Welfare and Institution Code Section 5150 calls (grounds for detention of someone, over 21 years of age, who is a danger to themselves or others) are transferred to the Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) unit in Placerville, El Dorado County. Children 12 years of age and over are treated at Sierra Vista Hospital in Sacramento, and children under 12 are taken to a Psychiatric Unit in Sacramento. Help is also available to children through the Pine Grove, Pioneer and Sutter Creek Schools.
  4. One half day rehabilitation for adults, 2 - 3 days per week, has been approved and will begin once a remodel of the MHD facility is completed.
  5. Acquisition of additional staff for children's services is in progress.
  6. Policies and procedures are in place and staff training has been completed to assist the County in the event of a major disaster.
  7. The current caseload of MHD is approximately 350. One third of these cases are children.
  8. The MHD receives no income from the County. It has both State and Federal grants and revenue from State sales taxes and vehicle license fees. A specific grant provides $2,600 for mental health treatment of the homeless at the homeless shelter in Jackson.

CONCLUSIONS

The standards and procedures reviewed appear to be in compliance with State Standards.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The MHD should continue its efforts to enlist the services of a full time, locally based, psychiatrist.


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