[caption id="attachment_74181" align="alignright" width="360"] Aurora campus on Fulton Road[/caption]
SANTA ROSA -- At long last, Santa Rosa and the surrounding region has a full-scale acute care psychiatric hospital that health officials said is meeting a significant need for a wide array of patients.
Aurora Santa Rosa Hospital, the long-anticipated 95-bed facility on Fulton Road, last week said its adolescent unit was officially opened, thereby putting the final touches on the hospital that was purchased in 2009 and remodeled over the last four years.
Last summer, the hospital partially opened with its adult unit and then later its senior unit. With the 19-bed adolescent unit now fully operating, Sonoma County and much of the North Coast will benefit from having a service that hasn’t been available locally since the 1980s, health officials said.
“It took no time at all to get a few patients in there,” said David Drum, director of business development for Aurora, referring to the adolescent unit, which had already seen 15 patients as of last week.
The newly opened adolescent unit at Aurora Santa Rosa restores a service not available in the county since 1985, when CPC Redwoods Psychiatric Hospital, a private, for-profit 80-bed facility that was housed in the same building as Aurora is now at 1287 Fulton Rd, closed its doors. Adult psych services were available in Sonoma County through 2009, which is when St. Joseph Health stopped operating the same Fulton Road facility. Sutter Health shuttered its psych services in 2008. In late 2009, Aurora's parent company, Corona-based Signature Healthcare Services, purchased the 52,000-square-foot facility.
While the shortage of acute-care psych beds for all residents has been a significant barrier, the available beds for adolescents is particularly stark, and the North Bay is far from the only region contending with the issue.
As of 2011, California has lost almost 32 percent of the total amount of psych beds since 1995, a drop of nearly 3,000 beds, according to a 2013 report from California Hospital Association, calling the decrease a “devastating drop.” Across the state, 88 total general acute care hospitals have psych units, with the total number of beds through those hospitals at 3,532, according to the hospital association. The number of beds through acute psych hospitals and psych health facilities was 2,835, putting the total number of beds at 6,367.
For children and adolescents, the total number of beds across the state is 637, according to Sheree Kruckenberg, California Hospital Association vice president of behavioral health, though that number can be a bit misleading because of the way the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development reports its data. Children and adolescents are combined.
“What this total doesn’t tell you is there are less than 70 beds for children under 12 – across the entire state,” Ms. Kruckenberg said.
State-run facilities such as Napa State Hospital are counted separately, since beds in those facilities are typically not available to the public and most patients being admitted under court order.
With California’s population of more than 38 million, as of 2011, the state had an average of one psych bed for every 5,975 people, compared with a national average of 1 psych bed for every 4,879 people, according to the report.
“Experts estimate a need for a minimum of one public psychiatric hospital bed for every 2,000 people for hospitalization for individuals with serious psychiatric disorders,” the report states.