Ribbon cutting event marks re-opening of crucial clinic in Palm Springs, the only one of its type in valley

After Riverside County chose not to renew a contract with a previous service provider last summer, re-opening the facility proved more difficult than expected.
Representatives from the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, the city, county, and Telecare gathered Thursday to officially open a new 24-hour mental health urgent care in Palm Springs.

The city, county, medical, and business communities came together Thursday to mark an event months in the making: A facility offering 24/7 walk-in mental health services is once again open in the city — the only such facility in the Coachella Valley.

Driving the news: The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Telecare’s new Riverside Desert Mental Health Urgent Care, a crisis stabilization unit (CSU) located at 2500 N. Palm Canyon Dr. Thursday’s ceremony marked the return to operation of services deemed crucial to those suffering a mental health crisis.

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Looking back: Riverside County chose not to renew a contract with RI International when it expired on June 30, 2022. The Phoenix-based company had operated a similar CSU at the same location since 2016. At the time, county officials had hoped it would only be a few days before another organization moved into the building.

  • Lease negotiations and other obstacles made progress on re-opening the facility difficult, however, and it was not until last month, on Dec. 5, that Telecare could open the doors once again.
  • During the interim, those experiencing a crisis were directed to Telecare’s Indio facility, which ramped up capacity.

Zoom in: Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can walk into the clinic, free of charge, and receive assistance with medications or see a care provider, said John Nekic, Telecare’s regional director of operations, before the ribbon cutting. At least one clinician, one nurse, and two staff members will be available at all times.

  • “It’s a peer-driven approach,” Nekic said. “We make sure to staff our facilities with people who have had lived experiences similar to those who come in for care. It’s a very effective approach.”

Why it matters: Clinics like the one now operated again in Palm Springs are meant for people who are in immediate crisis and are looking to request help voluntarily. They typically do not meet the criteria for a temporary involuntary psychiatric hold (5150). Someone must be considered a danger to themselves or others or gravely disabled to qualify for the involuntary hold.

  • Many end up in hospital emergency rooms without such facilities, adding more stress to an already stressed healthcare system.

More information: If you or somebody you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, Telecare’s facility in Palm Springs may be reached at 760-424-5602. In addition, the free and confidential 24/7 Crisis Helpline is available at 951-686-HELP (4357).

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