Orange County officials plan mental health emergency center

Orange County, Calif., officials are planning to open the area's first treatment center for mental health and drug abuse emergencies in a building near the county's largest homeless encampment, according to the Orange County Register.

The facility will treat minors, triage people who are experiencing sudden psychiatric episodes and provide outpatient treatment for drug addicts in withdrawal. The center will also house an undisclosed number of beds for long-term residential psychiatric services.

County supervisors voted Dec. 5 to purchase the 45,000-square-foot building for $7.8 million. The purchase is pending building inspection and has not yet been finalized.

"[The center] is a critical first step," said Michael Brant-Zawadzki, MD, senior physician executive at Orange County-based Hoag Hospital. "It needs to be the first brick of the first step, because we need at least four or five of these around the county."

Orange County officials plan to open two more "crisis-stabilization units," bringing the county's total to four, which includes a small 10-bed facility operating in Santa Ana, Calif.

County officials will likely finalize the purchase of the Orange building in March, but have not set the facility's opening date.

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