Anaheim Community Hospital opening with behavioral health focus

A shuttered hospital in Anaheim has found new life, with a specialty in behavioral health.

It’s been more than 40 years since northern Orange County has offered a dedicated behavioral health hospital, said Marie Neill, a hospital and community outreach liaison for Orange County Behavioral Health. But that’s changed with the opening of the Anaheim Community Hospital on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

The hospital, which held a community open house on July 1, has 98 inpatient beds for treating and accepting children all the way to seniors. The facility will particularly help with treating adolescents, Neill said.

All insurances, including Medicare, CalOptima, Kaiser Permanente, other HMOs, and PPOs, will be accepted.

“We will be accepting everyone,” Neill said. “We will not turn anyone away.”

As a general acute medical-surgical care facility with inpatient and outpatient systems, the facility has procedure suites, laboratory and imaging services, and several specialized care options, including electroconvulsive therapy for patients with “severe PTSD,” she said.

The center will also seek to help community members facing bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, along with those who require secondary detoxes for substance abuse, Neill added.

Councilman Jose Diaz, whose district includes the hospital on West Ball Road, said the facility’s opening shows an “opportunity for growth in West Anaheim,” adding that he hopes it will attract new businesses. He also said there is a “tremendous” need for mental health services in the area.

The city operates a Community Care Response Team, which works seven days a week to help guide residents out of homelessness, but the program faces barriers, Diaz said.

“We have the full infrastructure to support homeless people, but they don’t want to take that help,” he said, pointing to larger issues of mental health and substance abuse that Anaheim Community Hospital can address with people needing assistance.

Neill said Orange County Behavioral Health will use “established relationships” to guarantee referrals and ongoing resources are available to discharged patients experiencing homelessness, adding that the hospital’s resources will “ease stress” on law enforcement.

Sgt. Shane Carringer from the Anaheim Police Department said although there will be no direct “walk-in” relationship between the hospital and the department, as it is a private facility, it will still be beneficial for the community.

“What we’re hoping is that the capacity will free up hospitals in the area that we do have walk-in services available at,” he said. “We can use that new capacity in our area to our advantage.”

Offering “partial hospitalizations,” Neill said the community hospital will be able to hold some patients who may be “anxious, but not suicidal or violent,” for six hours a day, allowing them to return home to their families later.

While the expected length of stay for most patients is five days, Neill said the hospital will not be discharging patients who are not “ready and stabilized.” She said the new facility — open 24 hours a week — will aim to reduce long wait times for assessments that currently plague traditional hospitals.

“We’re offering so many services,” she said, “that a regular hospital just cannot offer.”

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