Planning Commission approves mental health facility project

Photo by Paul Schlesinger – The Clovis Planning Commission meets to discuss the future of the mental health facility project.

By Paul Schlesinger | Reporter

The Clovis Planning Commission approved the 102-bed mental health facility on Sept. 22 and now the final decision to build the project now rests on the city council.

The proposed mental health facility, owned by Universal Health Services, one of the largest hospital management companies in the United States, is expected to be built on the fringes of the expanding Dry Creek Business Park in the area, north of Herndon Avenue and west of Clovis Avenue, right beside Dry Creek and bordering the Cottonwood Grove apartment complex.

The facility is expected to include 12-foot high, no-climb fences at areas surrounding the facility and where vehicles that would be entering to drop off and pick up patients.

Before casting the votes, chairman Vongsavanh Mouanoutoua said he supported the project for the good of Clovis as it helped people that really need it.

“I believe that when we help the least amongst us, we help everyone,” Mouanoutoua said.

Despite the passing vote, the commission added conditions to the project that included the requirement that community members would be included in the facility’s advisory board.

They also added the stipulation that loitering was prohibited within 100 feet of the premises after concerns about people trying to gain a seat in the facility by remaining in the area.

Another condition that was added included leveling a fee to the facility operator, Universal Health Services, after a certain number of emergency response calls.

Cpl. Curtis Shurtliff told the commission that the Clovis Police Department was satisfied with the the facility’s discharge policy, but that its only concern was what would happen if a homeless person would refuse to be dropped off at their designated destination, which would be the Fresno Rescue Mission or Poverello House, if they had nowhere else to go.

Mouanoutoua said he felt good about the project if UHS continues working with the city attorney to fine tune the discharge policy even more.

Trevor Vampren told the commission that he tried calling numerous people with UHS to get a firm answer on the discharge policy for the homeless at their mental health facilities. He said that no one answered, but he was able to get an answer from their competitors.

The representative told Vampren that they try to make arrangements to release them to a place like the Fresno Rescue Mission or the Poverello House, If they refuse to go there, they are given a bus token or taxi ride, but they could be dropped off at a nearby fast food place if they want.

Vampren mentioned that he is still waiting to hear back from a UHS representative.

The city council is expected to discuss and vote on the project in October.