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Destruction of Vista del Mar hospital poses threat to mental health care availability in Ventura

TThe view of the smokey haze over Ventura. Credit: Olivia Sanford / The Foothill Dragon Press

During the height of the Thomas fire, Vista del Mar Hospital fell victim to the flames. All of the Vista del Mar employees and patients were safely evacuated, but the hospital itself was destroyed.

According to its website, the Vista del Mar psychiatric unit specialized in adult inpatient care, adolescent inpatient care and helping combat substance dependency. The hospital also had a military support program for veterans as well as those who serve on active duty. The support program includes resources and individualized therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The only 24-hour facility dedicated to mental health left standing in the vicinity of Ventura is Hillmont Psychiatric Hospital, which can be found at Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC). Since this unit is a subset of VCMC and branches from the main hospital, it is not meant to hold as many patients as Vista del Mar.

With this event, there are now no independent psychiatric hospitals in the city of Ventura that solely focus on mental health.

Leticia Broida, who has been a mental health worker at Vista del Mar for the past 11 years, states that Hillmont “will not be sufficient” in the short term or an extended period of time.

“Not only is it a small locked down bed facility, [Hillmont] does not accept adolescents,” she said. “Hillmont will not be sufficient in the long term because it does not provide partial hospitalization. The [Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)] outpatient therapeutic groups in order to help the patient continue recovery.”

Broida also mentions that the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI), a mental health resource in Ventura, could potentially be beneficial to those who need someone to reach out to.



Janet Marcoux, who has been assigned by the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) as a teacher at Vista del Mar for the past 12 years, stressed the importance of the fallen hospital.

“The hospital is a huge part of the mental health community for Ventura County,” Marcoux said. “After talking to an administrator there [on Wednesday] morning they stated that they will start rebuilding as soon as they can to meet the needs of mental health patients in Ventura County as soon as possible.”

Marcoux states that “with the hospital being closed now, I will be doing a different position in the school district.”

Concerning the rebuild of Vista del Mar, Broida said she has “not seen the blueprints for the additional buildings” but she is under the impression that the hospital will be expanded.

“My understand[ing] is [that] it would provide an additional adolescent unit,” she said. “Vista del Mar provided so much treatment for the community. It will surely be missed.”

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