Crisis Intervention

Finally, a Wellness Campus nears reality

By Jeff Harris
July 2023

Substance-use disorders and mental illness are big contributors to homelessness. And our region lacks enough programs to address this problem.

Easy availability of street methamphetamines makes everything worse. Seeking solutions, I worked with WellSpace Health and Sacramento Police in 2019 to create the Substance Use Respite and Engagement center. It’s where people in substance or psychiatric crises can receive help and a ‘front porch’ to recovery-oriented services.

The project is a winner. Hundreds of substance abusers improved their lives thanks to the center. It’s the first behavioral health program where the city and county co-invested. WellSpace enthusiastically expanded the program. Now it’s called the Crisis Receiving for Behavioral Health center.

WellSpace Health CEO Jonathan Porteus says, “The CRBH, which we affectionately refer to as ‘crib,’ set the stage for a remarkable partnership between the city of Sacramento and Sacramento County.

“The center solved for issues related both to acute psychiatric crises as well as acute intoxication, which frequently occur together or are often confused for one another. The center became an alternative destination to emergency departments or the jail and generates momentum toward many other services along the region’s behavioral health treatment continuum.”

He continues, “Most importantly, the center creates 24/7 safe and fast access to support without encumbering personnel and systems that aren’t designed for this, and an opportunity for personal empowerment and self-efficacy by helping them to work through a crisis and access care, rather than be helplessly passed along a conveyor belt of involuntary services with poor outcomes.”

WellSpace acquired property on Stockton Boulevard to create a Wellness Campus. Amid an array of outpatient dental, health and behavioral health services, a new crisis receiving center and crisis communications center will transform the way the community addresses addiction and behavioral health problems among homeless and housed residents.

The campus, built as a commercial retail center, has 70,000 square feet of space on 13 acres. With a holistic perspective on care, WellSpace has created a remarkable opportunity to deal with a basic cause of homelessness alongside many health solutions that address various determinants of health. The city and county are co-investors in the property purchase.

The Wellness Campus will include:
• Federally Qualified Health Center (medical and dental services for all ages)
• Senior center with integrated living
• 988 suicide and mental health crisis hotline communications center with intake referrals
• Certified Community Behavioral Health Center
• Residential rehabilitation
• Care transitions with job training
• Demonstration kitchen

Reconstruction and new building will take about eight years. Costs may reach $120 million. But the dental, communications and crisis receiving areas could be open next year.

The vision for Wellness Campus is to create capacity to treat a continuum of health issues on one campus, compensating for many insufficient programs for underserved people. Subsequent construction is meant to address major treatment access limitations for neighboring communities and the region at large. I’m sure the facility will become a model for many municipalities. The communications center is already receiving statewide attention.

WellSpace Health’s Wellness Campus will make a dramatic change in holistic care, including the behavioral health issues that lead to crime and homelessness. It will be a place where people can rebuild their lives.

Jeff Harris represented District 3 on the City Council from 2014 to 2022. He can be reached at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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