The Center for Health Care Services
November 17-18, 2015 | 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 four Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) member states, travelled to San Antonio, Texas, November 17-18, 2015, for briefings on The Center for Health Care Services' (CHCS) Restoration Center pre-trial diversion and treatment programs and 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 2,500 people monthly from jail or hospital emergency rooms, the streamlined programs have helped eliminate prison overcrowding and reduce recidivism rates in Bexar County.

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, The Center for Health Care Services; Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau; Judge Ernie Glenn, Bexar County Felony Drug Court; Gilbert Gonzalez, Bexar County Mental Health Officer; and Briseida Courtois, Director of Addiction Treatment Services, The Center for Health Care Services.

Officer Ernie Stevens with the Mental Health Unit of 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. To date 96 percent of officers have received the training, which includes instruction on how to identify individuals suffering mental health crises and de-escalate potentially dangerous situations without the use of force. At a time when many states are facing an opioid drug crisis, delegates also learned about The Center's Mommies Program, which provides specialized substance abuse services for new and expectant mothers.

Delegates were given a tour of The Restoration Center's crisis intervention, substance abuse, and residential detoxification facilities by Mr. David Pan, Director of Acute Services at The Center for Healthcare Services. Mr. Scott Ackerson, Vice President for Strategic Relationships at 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 The Courtyard, a joint venture between The Center for Health Care Services and Haven for Hope, which provides food, shelter, and psychiatric and medical services to the community's homeless population 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Participants in the delegation included Representative Fredrick Love, Arkansas; Representative John Tilley, Kentucky; Representative Helena Moreno, Louisiana; and Representative Bob Ramsey, Tennessee.