November 17-18, 2014 | San Antonio, Texas
SLC Human Services & Public Safety Committee Technical Tour
The Center for Health Care Services
A delegation of legislators, whose interests lie in criminal justice and mental health policy, from five Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) member states, travelled to San Antonio, Texas, November 17-18, 2014, for briefings on the Center for Health Care Services’ (CHCS) Restoration Center jail diversion program and the Haven for Hope homeless center. Delegates met with facility officials and representatives to learn about the innovative approach San Antonio’s Bexar County has employed to address the persistent problems of prison overcrowding and mental illness in prisoners. Since its inception in 2003, the CHCS jail diversion program has become a national model in crisis intervention and mental health treatment. In addition to screening and diverting 1,400 people monthly from jail or hospital emergency rooms, the streamlined program has saved more than $50 million in the last five years.
To learn more about the collaboration’s history, services provided, measurable successes, and future growth opportunities, delegates received high-level briefings from Mr. Leon Evans, CEO, Center for Health Care Services; Representative José Menéndez, Texas House of Representatives; Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau; Judge Ernie Glenn, Bexar County Felony Drug Court; Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson; Gilbert Gonzalez, Bexar County Mental Health Officer; Christi Garfield, Vice President of Restoration Services; Brittany Berry, Clinic Administrator, Crisis Center; and Ron Stringfellow, Veteran Administrator, Center for Health Care Services.
Officers from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and the San Antonio Police Department spoke to delegates about the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training required for all Bexar County law enforcement officers and the special CIT mental health units within each agency. Through specialized training, officers learn how to identify persons suffering mental health crises and de-escalate potentially dangerous situations. The training also educates officers about the resources available to mentally ill residents and other resources available to those residents’ families.
Delegates were given a tour of The Restoration Center’s crisis intervention, substance abuse, and residential detoxification facilities by Ms. Jennifer See, Director of Quality and Risk Management. Mr. Scott Ackerson, Vice President for Strategic Relationships at the Haven for Hope and Community Transformation Services at the Center for Health Care Services, provided delegates a tour of the Haven for Hope campus. During the tour, delegates visited Prospects Courtyard, which provides food, shelter, and psychiatric and medical services to the community’s homeless population 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Courtyard also serves as an intermediate resource for persons moving from The Restoration Center to the Haven for Hope program.
Participants in the delegation included Representative Mike Holmes, Alabama; Representative Valarie Hodges, Louisiana; Senator Hob Bryan Mississippi; Senator Doug Overbey, Tennessee; and Senator Janet Howell, Virginia.