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The Madera Tribune

Mental hospital could benefit county

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webmaster | 03/16/13

A hospital consultant from Bakersfield and some local people are hoping to build a mental hospital in Madera, which would be a good thing, both from a health-care standpoint and economically.

According to Noel Cabezzas of Health Care Consultants of Bakersfield, the hospital would have 105 beds — a number, he said, that would be needed to accommodate the likely number of patients in Madera and Fresno counties. He said that number also would make the hospital economically viable, since Medicare reimbursements go up when the number of beds is at that level.

“You have to be realistic,” he said.

Some in the community have been making plans for a smaller mental health care facility, possibly with about 35 beds. But without the larger number of beds, he said, “it would be doomed to failure.”

He said Madera and Fresno counties both have mental health care needs that aren’t being met now.

“I have researched the need in Madera County and Fresno County,” he said, “and if you put the two of these together, I see the need of 50 to 60 people needing care each day. All these are on behavioral health.”

He has met with high-level county officials, and has made a presentation to them based on the statistical data he has gathered.

He said his presentation included “the cost of building the hospital, as well as the needs of the community.”

“We will have to get some leadership behind it,” he said, “as well as the medical community to make this happen.” He said he has been working on the project for two months, and has reached the point where local leadership is vital.

He said a mental health care hospital could be built for $6 million to $7 million. “That is a lot less money than an acute-care hospital,” he said.

“It would employ from 185 to 200 people,” he said, and would benefit the economy in other ways by purchasing supplies and services locally.

This could be a good addition to Madera’s economy, along with Madera Community Hospital and Central Valley Children’s Hospital. And, he said, it would fill a real need.

“There are many levels of need for care,” he said. Prisoners, children, adults, the elderly all can suffer mental illness, which can go untreated unless there is an in-patient facility available to provide care. Present behavioral health care is usually out-patient only, and while that is effective on a limited level, there is a need for a higher level of care for some patients.

Let’s hope local leadership finds a way to make it happen.


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