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Mental health hospital proposed for Las Tablas Road 

Templeton mental health hospital

This is what the proposed mental health hospital could look like if approved to go in across the street from Twin Cities Community Hospital.

New facility could treat up to nearly 100 mentally ill patients

After two years of development, Jan Hochhauser, a principal of Hochhauser Blatter Architecture and Planning, presented the plans for a mental health hospital on Las Tablas Road, across the street from Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, at a community meeting on Tuesday evening.

Hochhauser said this was the first public meeting held in Templeton. The next time the public will have the opportunity to weigh in on the topic is at the Templeton Area Advisory Council meeting on Thursday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the Templeton Community Services District, 206 5th St. Currently, there is an application submitted with the County of San Luis Obispo by Harvey Billing, who owns the property. Mark Schneider will be the operator and manager of the hospital. Hochhauser said that it will likely go before the SLO County Board of Supervisors sometime in the first four months of 2015.

“If you look at the history of the Twin Cities Hospital and the profundity of surrounding medical uses you would see that this — since 1977 — was always planned to serve the adjacent communities and SLO County,” Hochhauser said. “Putting this in an existing building is often done, but not ideal when you are trying to create an ideal program and design. It’s more often the case than not that people with behavioral health issues also need services in other medical disciplines. After all, as human beings we are mind and body.”

Templeton resident Tamara Stavrianoudakis said she was completely against such a hospital locating in the community, but after attending Tuesday’s meeting, she said she sees the need for such a hospital in the North County. “It was very enlightening, I did know there was that big of a need,” Stavrianoudakis said. “I don’t think it should be in that area because it’s too close to residential neighborhoods.”

She said that someone suggested it being located where the Boys School had been in Paso Robles north of Highway 46 East, which she thinks is a good idea. “I really don’t want that element in Templeton,” Stavrianoudakis said.

Atascadero United Methodist Church Pastor Diane Rehfield spoke in favor of the hospital going into Templeton: “I don’t worry about people who are receiving treatment in a facility like this. I do worry about people who are in need of mental health treatment who never get the help they need. Treatment can prevent tragedies  Ignoring an illness and hoping it will go away can lead to tragedy.  That’s why I support this facility.”

Hochhauser said that the hospital will serve as mostly as an in-patient facility. “Primarily,” he said, “this is an acute care facility, with many people staying five, 10 days.” Additionally, the hospital will offer support services. People can be admitted to the hospital by a loved one, doctor, emergency room staff or psychologist, and once they are released, they return home. The majority of the patients, he said, will come from the same areas that people who go to Twin Cities Community Hospital come from with its primary patients come from Atascadero, Paso Robles, Templeton and San Luis Obispo. There will be four components, with 20 to 24 beds in each: children, adolescents, adults and geriatric.

He said that there were concerns raised about people walking out of the hospital, but that while it could happen, it’s very unlikely. Even then, Hochhauser said, it outweighs those people who need the help not getting the help, which could be a danger to the community.

“The minute you talk about a mental issue, people have prejudices,” Hochhauser said. “But [the mentally ill] are here now. “We’re very excited about what this brings to the community.”

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