The construction of an inpatient psychiatric hospital that will serve Santa Clara County’s youngest residents is another step closer to becoming a reality for kids and teens seeking care during an acute mental health crisis.
On Wednesday, more than a hundred construction workers sat down to a barbecue lunch to celebrate the newest addition to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s (SCVMC) campus – the Adolescent Psychiatric Facility and Behavioral Health Services Center, located at 751 S. Bascom Ave. in San Jose.
“It’s just a big superstructure today,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian. “But in the very near future, it's going to be a place of real safety and sanctuary for kids who are at risk taking their own lives.”
A large steel beam, covered in the signatures of construction workers and health care providers, marked the occasion.
The impetus to build the hospital began nearly nine years ago with a comment from one of Simitian’s constituents who told him that there were no inpatient psychiatric facilities for children and teenagers in the county.
Initially disbelieving, Simitian learned that this was true, he said. Young patients had to travel long distances, sometimes as far away as Sonoma and Sacramento, to access acute psychiatric care services. As a result, hundreds of kids did not receive the help they needed.
“We take pride in our health care systems,” Simitian said, “But this was a big gap.” In 2018, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the development of an inpatient psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents, the first of its kind in the county.
When it is completed, the three-story, 207,000-square-foot facility will have separate inpatient units for kids, teens and adults. It will provide 35 beds for youth and 42 beds for adults, and will have both emergency and outpatient psychiatric services, according to a county press release.
“It’s starting to become real,” Simitian said, surveying the scene and noting that there were numerous delays in getting the project off the ground. No one accepted the initial bid, as the financial undertaking was too large. The main contractor also pulled out, creating another setback, and last year’s torrential rains added further delays. But since then, construction has been on-track, Simitian said.
The anticipated completion date is October 2025, according to Paul Lorenz, CEO of Santa Clara Health and Hospital System.
The celebration ended with the last steel beam being raised to the hospital’s rooftop. A potted pine tree sat at the end of the beam. “It’s a tradition of the iron workers,” said Arturo Taboada, a construction manager.
“People will look after the tree and will plant it on the site. Everyone is responsible to keep it alive,” he said.