San Francisco Partnership Launches New Mental Health Center

By Mike Billings

Mark Laret speaks at a press conference announcing the new San Francisco Healing Center
Mark Laret, president and chief executive officer of UCSF Health, speaks at a press conference announcing the new San Francisco Healing Center. Photo by Susan Merrell

UC San Francisco has joined with the City of San Francisco and three other public and private partners to open a new center to help address the city’s mental health inpatient needs.

The city on Monday announced the opening of the San Francisco Healing Center, a 54-bed facility located at St. Mary’s Medical Center. The center will double the number of beds in the county that serve patients who do not need the acute care offered at UCSF, but are not able to care for themselves on their own.

The new center, which will begin serving clients March 12, is a public-private partnership that formed to address the intractable issue of rising incidents of mental illness in our society. The partnership includes the San Francisco Department of Public Health, nonprofit health provider Dignity Health, UCSF Health and Crestwood Behavioral Health.

a room in the new San Francisco Healing Center
The new San Francisco Healing Center will have 54 beds for those who do not need the acute care offered at UCSF, but are not able to care for themselves on their own. Photo by Susan Merrell

The center will be managed by Crestwood Behavioral Health, which offers a comprehensive program for recovery and wellness to help patients develop the skills they need to pursue an independent life. The San Francisco Department of Public Health will act as the lead agency and project coordinator. Dignity Health contributed to the cost of space and renovations at its St. Mary’s Hospital, where the program is located. UCSF is contributing up to $1 million to the cost of renovation and programming for the center.

“This center will play a critical role in expanding the safety net of mental health care in San Francisco and enable patients to successfully transition between a hospital setting and their communities,” said Mark Laret, president and chief executive officer of UCSF Health. “We’re proud to support this center, as part of our ongoing partnership with Dignity Health, and look forward to the successes of the patients who will receive care in this facility. This collaboration is a model of health care working at its best to serve the people who need it most.”

UCSF’s collaboration in the new center builds on the mental health services it provides on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.

UCSF Health provides highly specialized care for people who are in mental health crisis at its Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, located at the UCSF’s Parnassus Heights campus. The facility provides an adult inpatient unit, an adult Partial Hospitalization Program, and adult/child outpatient services.

Deann Robinson, director of Staff Development at the new Crestwood Healing Center and a former patient, speaks during the announcement of the new center about her triumph over addiction to exemplify the success of residential support facilities. Photo by Susan Merrell

In addition, UCSF Health physicians work at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (ZSFG), which provides acute mental health care.

The new center will serve an important need for patients who are placed on conservatorship, which is determined by a judge for individuals who are gravely disabled due to mental illness and cannot take care of their basic needs for food, shelter or clothing.

The 54 new beds for conserved mentally ill clients at the San Francisco Healing Center will add to the existing 47 such beds at the Mental Health Rehabilitation Center (MHRC) located in the Behavioral Health Center on the campus of ZSFG.

“As many know, there is a current crisis in mental health with regards to available beds for sub-acute care. Sub-acute care is the care for clients who are ready to move from emergency or urgent care settings but are not yet ready for outpatient status,” said Maga Jackson-Triche, MD, MSHS, the vice president for Adult Behavioral Health Services at UCSF Health. “This is a major step toward creating a mental health ecosystem that has the ability to serve the needs of our population.”

Read the full press release from the City and County of San Francisco about the new center »