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Kern County recovery stations celebrate one year of offering one-of-a-kind service

Recovery Station

Community members prepare for a tour of the Bakersfield Recovery Station during a celebration Wednesday of its first year in business.

It serves as a refuge for those who have taken too much, and it strives to be the launching point for people seeking a better life.

For a year, the Bakersfield Recovery Station has taken in clients for the night and let them sober up before dropping them off the next morning. The only sobering facility in Bakersfield to also connect clients with substance abuse and mental health services, the recovery station hopes to set clients on the right foot when they walk out the door.

“There’s not that many recovery stations in the United States. This is a very brand-new model, so we are bringing a pioneering resource to the community,” said Kern County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Public Information Officer Mitchall Patel. “Communities will have the drunk tank, the sobering station. We have a recovery station where we can bring people in and help them with their immediate needs, but we’re also able to help them with their long-term needs.”

Kern Behavioral Health contracts Telecare, an Alameda-based rehabilitation company, to operate the Bakersfield Recovery Center as well as one in Delano. After a year in operation, the company hosted an open house Wednesday to show off its two Kern County facilities to local residents.

In Bakersfield, the 10-bed building on Kentucky Street has taken in more than 1,300 people. Usually, the intakes are dropped off by law enforcement or Behavioral Health’s crisis teams. The voluntary program typically sees clients stay for eight to 10 hours before dropping them off at the clients' chosen destination.

Clients spend much of their time sleeping off their intoxication, but some counseling services are also available. Most of the employees have also gone through issues with alcohol or other substances, which can create a bond with the clients.

“When someone comes in and they have a real good recovery conversation with somebody and they leave and they’re not ready to go into treatment, that’s still a win,” said Telecare Administrator Rochelle Ramirez. “I think it’s really important to remember that it’s not just about getting linked up to services after — we want that for them — but that they’re willing to have those conversations. I think that’s important. Because not everybody has that opportunity to talk to somebody about their recovery.”

In addition to providing a place to sleep, Patel pointed out that the two recovery stations prevent individuals from taking up beds in local hospitals and jail. This became especially important during the pandemic, when hospital beds became scarce due to an overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients.

“The people who were here were not taking up the bed of a loved one that was suffering another condition. They’re not taking up space in the jails and adding to that situation,” he said.

The new recovery stations are “kind of a trial run,” but it seems to be going well.

“It’s always hard to see someone at their lowest, but I’ve had my moments, even in the first few months, when I’ve walked out to help the team with the workflow of the day and I just was just amazed, like, ‘This is really working,’” Ramirez said. “We had people walking around talking with people, engaging with our peers and it was kind of like an ‘aha’ moment, where I was just like, ‘This is beautiful. This is amazing. We’re really doing the work.’”

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

Coronavirus Cases widget

  • Positive Cases Among Kern Residents: 157,662

  • Deaths: 1,804

  • Recovered and Presumed Recovered Residents: 149,957

  • Percentage of all cases that are unvaccinated: 92.09

  • Percentage of all hospitalizations that are unvaccinated: 92.72