Outpatient center opens in San Mateo: HealthRight offers assistance for those with mental health, substance abuse issues

By Samantha Weigel July 30th, 2015

Tears, cheers, gratitude and hope marked the grand opening of San Mateo County’s newest mental health and substance abuse treatment center that plans to accept all who need assistance getting their lives back on track.

HealthRight 360 celebrated its newest outpatient center, 2015 Pioneer Court in San Mateo, that will provide counseling, referrals, meals and more to both adults and youth.

The nonprofit operates a range of centers across nine counties — including five other sites within the county — and assisted 27,000 clients last year alone, said HealthRight 360 CEO Vitka Eisen.

Located near multiple forms of transit just a few blocks off El Camino Real, Pioneer Court will fill a gap in the county’s current outpatient service centers and help those transitioning from more intensive care or looking to get started, Eisen said.

“It’s important to have outpatient for a number of reasons. The way care is transitioning, and what good care looks like, is that care for substance abuse disorder and mental health is offered along a continuum. So that we’re not just treating it at an acute level in an intensive residential setting, but that we have an opportunity for people to transition from that into a longer-term relationship in an outpatient program,” Eisen said. “So really, a thoughtful system of care.”

The Pioneer Center, named after its address, will be open for walk-ins to attend orientation every weekday from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Although the center has offered mental health services for the last month, it officially received approval to begin operating substance abuse treatment services Wednesday.

The nonprofit has a long-standing history of providing a range of medical services and is even marked by being the nation’s first free clinic having opened its original site in San Francisco during the late 1960s, according to HealthRight.

San Mateo Mayor Maureen Freschet said she’s proud the organization has opened a site in the centrally located city and believes its motto of treating the whole person will serve the community well.

“People with mental health issues or substance abuse are often unfairly stigmatized, misunderstood, so they need a safe place where they can go. Where they can get the treatment they need, but feel that they’re in good hands with people that are compassionate and truly understand the challenges they’re facing,” Freschet said.

During an emotional speech, Khloe, a recent graduate from HealthRight’s Women’s Recovery Association program, touched on the value of having resources to restore her path.

“Today, I’m able to show up for life. I have a full-time job and friends that I cherish. … Before the program, my life was like the size of a marshmallow, and now, my world has no limits,” Khloe said. “With the opening of this program, it will give people like myself, in the same predicament, to find the help that they need and hopefully, better their lives and realize change is possible.”

Steve Kaplan, director of the county’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, said it is clients and supportive staff that make centers a success.

“I’m looking forward to the stories that come out of the work that’s done here, about people’s recovery and the restoration of their lives and the reclaiming of their family life and their place in the community. Because that’s what’s going to happen here and that’s, at the end of the day, the most important thing,” Kaplan said.

Eisen said San Mateo County officials have been forward thinking in how to care and provide for those who have mental health or substance abuse issues, particularly in planning for the expansion of the Affordable Care Act.

The Pioneer Center began as a county initiative and after it gets going, will be primarily funded through Medi-Cal, Eisen said.

Many local residential treatment centers are still awaiting a waiver to the ACA that would allow them to charge for the substance abuse portion of their care — a delay that’s caused nonprofits like Project 90, Our Common Ground and the Latino Commission to consider closing some of their live-in facilities.

Eisen said she’s pleased to be contributing to the county’s full spectrum of offerings that includes detox, inpatient and outpatient resources.

Kaplan noted the county’s challenges and is confident in HealthRight’s ability to add to an accessible system for those in need of substance abuse and mental health treatment.

“One of our biggest challenges as we continue to look at the delivery of services in San Mateo County is matching up the demand that’s out there with accessing services that are helpful and relevant, culturally linguistic, gender, etc., and adding this resource to our community and our list of providers is just a terrific move forward,” Kaplan said. “It’s a big challenge and we want to make sure people get the right care at the right place and the right time in the right way when they need it. And the more we can bring online services of high quality, the better we’re doing in the progress we’re making.”

For those interested in receiving services, call the San Mateo County ACCESS Call Center at (800) 686-0101 and as for a referral to HealthRight 360’s outpatient services. Visit healthright360.org for more information about HealthRight 360 or call (650) 348-6603 to reach the Pioneer Court center.

samantha@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106