About Behavioral Health
An estimated 7.5 million people in California experience a mental health disorder in any given year, but only one-third of adults who experience mental illness are getting treatment. The caregivers at hospitals know the obstacles people with behavioral health conditions face and the challenges in getting them the treatment they need.
While hospitals embrace the essential role they play in addressing this crisis, more needs to be done. Investments are needed to tackle a crisis made even worse by COVID-19. California must prioritize behavioral health investments in prevention, early assessment, identification of needs, and aggressive treatment for all, regardless of health coverage or ZIP code.
In addition, solutions like payment reform, resource allocation, more outpatient and community-based services, a bolstered behavioral health workforce, and a statewide set of standardized core services will help Californians with behavioral health conditions access the care they deserve.
This point-in-time analysis was conducted in 2017-2018 to gain a deeper understanding of the behavioral health challenges faced by San Diego patients. Issues examined included pre-acute, acute, and post-acute services and the impact of social determinants of health on access and outcomes. Ultimately, the findings are intended to support further research efforts and to promote collaboration between San Diego County Behavioral Health Services and other community organizations providing behavioral health services in San Diego.
EMSA AND CDPH WAIVERS: CHA is seeking the extension of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) COVID-19 waivers from June 30 to Sept. 30. With a projected summer wave of COVID-19 threatening to strain an already stressed health care delivery system, these flexibilities are critical to maintaining the current health care capacity in California. Specifically, the waivers at risk are:
Both waivers will need an executive order to be issued by the governor’s office to update the most recent executive order’s provisions that otherwise will expire. CHA is advocating for these executive order provisions, and corresponding CDPH and EMSA waivers, to be renewed as soon as possible. CHA has developed talking points that hospitals may want to use in outreach to state legislators and department officials about the impacts to their communities if these flexibilities are not extended. HASD&IC submitted feedback from members to help with CHA’s advocacy efforts.
MEDI-CAL ELIGIBILITY FOR NEW UKRAINIAN ARRIVALS: The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has released a Medi-Cal Eligibility Division Information Letter to provide guidance to counties on the Medi-Cal eligibility of Ukrainian nationals arriving in California. It is anticipated that a significant number will resettle in California. The federal government has not provided any special benefit eligibility for this population, but has authorized the use of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukrainian arrivals who qualify. Many of the Ukrainian arrivals may enter under TPS or as humanitarian parolees and may not be eligible for the traditional federal services offered to immigrants granted refugee status. However, they may qualify for state-funded programs, including state-funded full-scope Medi-Cal. The letter provides guidance on how to establish Medi-Cal eligibility for this population (based on current Medi-Cal policy) for state and federal Medi-Cal benefits. DHCS will work closely with the state Office of Refugee Health and stakeholders to ensure that new Ukrainian arrivals receive the Medi-Cal benefits to which they are entitled.
IMPERIAL VALLEY HOMELESSNESS: At the April 12 Imperial County Board of Supervisors meeting, the Imperial Valley Continuum of Care Council Administrative Entity provided details of how they are addressing homelessness and overall accomplishments so far. Updates include a redesign of an operating Coordinated Entry System, the entity’s pandemic response (a region-wide survey to understand needs), update on current continuum of care programs, and projects such as the new Homeless Day Center that will provide services to over 700 individuals per year, Lotus Living Community (transitional housing) for Imperial Valley College students, and youth programs for those experiencing homelessness that have served 156 youth.
MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES: The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued a COVID-19 Therapeutics Needs Assessment survey to understand how frequently antiviral medications and monoclonal antibody treatments are being used in each jurisdiction and/or health care facility. The survey is designed to help CDPH understand challenges and successes in outpatient treatment of COVID-19. As the landscape of outpatient therapeutics is changing rapidly, there have been several versions of this survey. Hospitals are encouraged to complete the survey even if another version was previously completed. More information on COVID-19 therapeutics options is available on the CDPH COVID-19 treatments page.
DONATION OF MEDICAL SUPPLIES FOR UKRAINE: The Naval Medical Center’s Zachary Alexander, MD, is working with the House of Ukraine, a local organization, to help obtain donations of medical supplies to send to Ukraine for humanitarian aid. The organization has established two flights per week from Los Angeles to Ukraine, and they are seeking all kinds of medical supplies, including expired and near-expired materials. A priority list of critically needed supplies is available; contact Dr. Alexander at Zac.firstname.lastname@example.org or (240) 426-3708 for more information about donating.
NEW LIVE WELL ON WHEELS BUS: During a Feb. 1 press conference, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and the Health and Human Services Agency announced the addition of a second Live Well on Wheels (WOW) bus. The bus will provide and deliver same-day services such as health care and food assistance, application assistance, or linkage to mental health services. In 2021, the Live WOW bus served nearly 23,000 people at more than 200 community events, mostly for COVID-19 services. Two additional Live WOW buses and one Public Health Lab bus are also on the way. These buses are available by request to attend community events that are co-hosted by community partners.
BEHAVIORAL HEALTH ASSESSMENT REPORT: To inform future planning on behavioral health, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), in collaboration with its stakeholders, produced a report on California’s behavioral health system: Assessing the Continuum of Care for Behavioral Health Services in California: Data, Stakeholder Perspectives, and Implications. This report reviews data and stakeholder perspectives as DHCS implements major behavioral health initiatives, including the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program; the response to new federal funding opportunities; and a proposal for a Section 1115 Medicaid demonstration waiver in 2022 to strengthen mental health services for people living with serious mental illness, and children and youth living with serious emotional disturbance.
COVID-19 VACCINATIONS BY ZIP CODE: San Diego County’s Weekly COVID-19 Surveillance Report shows the percentage (as of Dec. 4) of the total population of San Diego County residents who are fully vaccinated, by ZIP code of residence. Note that the data only include vaccines that have been recorded in the San Diego Immunization Registry. Some health care providers, including Veteran’s Affairs, the Department of Defense, some tribal entities, and prisons, do not report to the registry.