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Chula Vista residents fight back against proposed psychiatric hospital

Posted at 6:15 PM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 21:47:28-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - Battle lines are being drawn over plans to turn a Chula Vista property into a large psychiatric hospital.

It will provide more beds for people in need, but neighbors are fighting the project.

Scripps Health announced its partnership with Acadia Healthcare on the project back in February, but many residents are only now learning about it.

The new center will serve as a regional resource to meet the needs of patients from across San Diego County. The planned 120-bed facility eventually will replace Scripps Mercy Hospital’s current 36-bed inpatient behavioral health unit.

“This is our lovely neighborhood, and the [planned] facility is right there next to my son’s bus stop," said Rebekah Edwards, a mother of two and EMS professional.

With no nearby mass transit, Edwards worries what will happen when patients are released.

"I have worked in EMS for the last 20 years, I’ve been able to help a lot of patients throughout this time, but also seen the good and bad. I'm not saying every person with psychiatric ailments and illnesses is bad, but there are those that are dangerous. I've seen firsthand people in a manic mode where they're unable to cope with what’s happening with the reality; they're off their medication, they're violent, they're aggressive.”

Other neighbors have expressed concerns if a patient were to escape the facility. Nearby the proposed land are schools, dance studios, and other kid-centered businesses.

‘I think it was very irresponsible, careless, and negligent," said Edwards.

A petition which has gathered over 700 signatures also raises concerns over Acadia Healthcare's record.

“Acadia like any business is going to have their issues but what we’re finding is negligence, child abuse, elder abuse, even child death. And this is just basic Googling, we're not even getting into the nitty gritty of it, so it is very concerning," said Edwards.

Neither Scripps or Acadia agreed to an interview but each sent statements:

Scripps Health:

Scripps Health and Acadia Healthcare have entered into a partnership to provide behavioral health services to patients in a new facility to be built in Chula Vista, which we announced in February. The facility will provide safe, quality care for patients who are greatly underserved. Acadia and Scripps will be working to help ensure the new facility meets both patients’ needs and those of the community. Before finalizing this partnership, Scripps undertook significant due diligence efforts. We have concluded Acadia has the deep expertise needed in this specialized field, along with a relevant history of partnering with other organizations. And under the terms of our partnership with Acadia, Scripps will have an active role in patient safety, quality and access – all of which helps ensure the best of care for patients. 

Acadia Healthcare:

Acadia’s mission is to improve the lives of our patients through successful treatment and recovery. Our health care professionals are committed to providing quality care to the approximately 14,000 patients in our facilities and the approximately 58,000 patients who are treated at our comprehensive treatment centers daily. To expand our commitment to providing quality behavioral health services, Acadia has entered into partnership with Scripps to build a new facility in Chula Vista, CA, which we announced in February. The new facility will provide safe, quality care for patients who are greatly underserved. Acadia and Scripps will be working to help ensure that the new facility meets patients' needs as well as the needs of the community.

The City of Chula Vista received a preliminary information request from Acadia, a formal application has not been submitted to the City.

If a formal application is submitted a notice of application will be mailed to all surrounding residents as well as those on the City’s electronic notification list. The project would require a conditional use permit and design review permit, both to be reviewed by the Chula Vista Planning Commission.