At last week’s Delano City Council meeting, held April 2, Kern County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Department presented to the council an exciting new initiative I have mentioned previously in this section: the Recovery Station. Bill Walker, BHRS director, shared with the council how they have identified Delano as the location for this station, the first station chosen outside the city of Bakersfield.

This Recovery Station is a difference maker for Delano for a number of reasons: 1) It provides a healthy place for those in need of recovery or detoxification. It could be from drinking too much, drug abuse or it could be a mental health or behavioral crisis of a different sort. 2) The time spent at the Recovery Station is a time to help these people identify and hopefully move to resolve the problems that put them in need of recovery in the first place. They don’t get this kind of help when they are incarcerated overnight. The Recovery Station will be staffed with professionals to provide health screening and peer counseling. 3) Speaking of incarceration, the time spent by the Delano Police Department bringing these folks to a Recovery Station is dramatically less than the time it takes to take them and process them at the Kern County Jail. This saves money and puts the officers back on the street, protecting your city. 4) Finally, contrary to a “lock them up” approach, this deals with these folks in a more humane way, and this can yield long-term benefits in terms of police relationships with our community and with folks choosing recovery options in the future because they got much needed help and counseling instead of just a night in jail.

BHRS has chosen a contractor to run this facility, Telecare Corporation, and our next step is to find a location. My staff is working with city staff to identify possible locations as we speak, something along the lines of 3500 square feet, enough to put about 10 beds and a few offices for medical examination and case management.

This Recovery Station is a tangible benefit of close county/city relations that I have worked hard to achieve since the redistricting occurred that allowed me to serve Delano and McFarland. A few months ago, BHRS was providing me an overview of its activities and program developments. As it was outlining this new initiative, I explained to them that this kind of program would be well-suited to Delano, and as the second largest city in Kern County, Delano would be an appropriate choice for the second facility. And that’s how this came about.

We can do much more between us — Delano, McFarland and Kern County — if we find ways to cooperate, such as we did here. I look forward to sharing these ideas and programs in the coming months right here. If you have any questions or ideas of your own, please contact us at or at 661-868-3680. See you next week.

David Couch represents Kern County’s Fourth District.

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