With opening of youth unit, Aurora mental health facility fully online

[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.

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