A small, inpatient mental health rehabilitation center is planned for Yuba City.

During a public hearing at its Jan. 9 meeting, the Yuba City Planning Commission will consider a permit to allow for the center at the corner of Jewell and Percy avenues. The project is being proposed by Compassion Valley LLC, a Sacramento-based behavioral health group.

The facility will be classified as an adult residential care facility with focus on patients’ mental health rehabilitation, according to a city staff report. The currently vacant 3,881-square-foot building on a 0.26-acre lot is zoned as one family residence – which allows a small residential care facility with up to six patients, according to the report. By state law, the application for up to six beds must be approved if city standards are met; the use permit – to be voted on by the Planning Commission – will determine whether the applicant can offer up to 12 beds. 

The facility will be an inpatient 24-hour locked facility with a quiet room, office, nurses’ station, patients’ lounge, employee lounge, kitchen, cafeteria and outdoor recreational area equipment, according to the report, with a proposed ratio of one mental health technician to four patients. 

Ifeanyi Ezeani, CEO of Compassion Valley LLC, said the facility will teach individuals with acute mental illnesses how to learn to live independently again – skills including medicine management, vocational skills, personal hygiene, individual and group therapy, and educational services. It will not include a medical detox, according to the staff report. 

In a phone interview Thursday, Ezeani said he was involved with facilities in Redding, Red Bluff and Anderson before deciding to work independently. He is in conversations with bi-county Behavioral Health, which will place patients in the facility with an assigned conservator. Ezeani said he hopes to keep the facility focused on those with mental health issues and not patients with substance dependency disorders, though that decision may lie with Behavioral Health. 

“Mental health scares people,” Ezeani said. “The truth of the matter is the individuals we’re thinking about taking in are the people who, if we don’t take them in, they’re going home and there’s a high likelihood they will utilize local resources more, like police. We’re offering a service that really allows the individual to transition and stay away from the emergency room. It’s a positive thing for the community.”

The site is directly across the street from an apartment complex and residential homes; to the west is Yuba City High School and Park Avenue Elementary School. Ezeani and the city have proposed improvements to ensure the facility is compatible with the neighborhood: new landscaping along the northern, southern and eastern edges of the property with 10 feet of landscaping provided along Percy and Jewell avenues; installation of 6-foot high decorative masonry walls along the north and west side of the property; new paving to the parking area; and complimentary color palettes for the building, according to the report. 

Patients who insist on leaving and display aggressive behaviors will be physically restrained in a quiet room designed for seclusion and restraint. Chemical restraints may also be used with approval of a psychiatrist, according to the report. 

The facility will serve adults ranging from 18 to 65 years old with a variety of diagnoses. The patients typically have impairment in: emotional, social and occupational functioning; behavioral problems due to psychiatric conditions; severe agitation, anxiety or depression which interferes with daily functioning; and severe psychotic symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, paranoia or thought disorders, according to the report. Patients will be evaluated on a monthly basis by a psychiatrist and on an as-needed, case-by-case basis.  

Ezeani hopes to be operating within four to five months of securing the necessary permits and documentation. A representative for bi-county Behavioral Health could not be reached in time for comment Thursday.

Deputy Yuba City Manager Darin Gale said the city has been working with the applicant for a number of months and the project is ready for consideration by the Planning Commission. He said the city tried to include stipulations to lessen any impact on surrounding neighbors.

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