Council Connect Articles

Humboldt County Community Collaboration Yields Million-Dollar Grant Award


  • Mad River Community Hospital
  • Providence St. Joseph’s – Eureka and Redwood Memorial
  • SoHum Health
  • Waterfront Recovery Center
  • Humboldt County HHS Leadership
  • CalPoly Humboldt
  • College of the Redwoods
  • Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria
  • United Indian Health Services
  • Leadership from Blue Lake Rancheria
  • Humboldt County Law Enforcement
  • Verily Health Solutions
  • Hospital Council


On June 23, Mad River Community Hospital was notified it had been awarded $12.3 million for the construction of a Behavioral Health Crisis Triage Center (BHCTC). The stakeholder group outlined above first met in June 2022 and, over the course of six months, evaluated community need, conceptualized what meeting that need would look like, identified funding opportunities, and began a draft for the BHCTC. Early work included learning from the leadership at Waterfront Recovery Center and their first-in-county Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, which offers individuals struggling with opiate dependency a more sustainable detoxification option combined with peer support, therapy, and life skills.  

Waterfront Recovery’s founders, Dr. Ruby Bayan and John McManus, had an ambitious blueprint for the expansion of their critically needed services; sadly, the combination of COVID and Mr. McManus’ passing left Waterfront’s plans gathering dust as Dr. Bayan worked overtime to maintain operations. As this community collaborative was beginning to build steam, Waterfront’s new manager, Jeremy Campbell, updated Dr. Bayan and Mr. McManus’ proposal to share with the group. With thought leadership from Verily Life Sciences and Humboldt County Behavioral Health, the dream of two committed community leaders began to grow into a proposal inclusive of Waterfront’s MAT program needs and the greater community behavioral health needs.  

On a parallel track, Commander Leonard LaFrance and the Eureka Police Department’s Community Safety Engagement Team was emerging as a leader in the decriminalization of mental illness and substance abuse; Commander LaFrance’s team presents more like social workers than police, and their directive is to develop relationships among the hardest-hit in their community in order to provide access to services like rehab and safe housing. The third leg of this stool, workforce, had additionally been built through Connie Stewart’s initiatives with CalPoly Humboldt and College of the Redwoods.   By actively listening to and repeatedly engaging this wealth of community resources, the BHCTC proposal stood out among over $2 billion in requests for the full reward of the round five Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Project grant monies. 

This announcement is transformative in that the award results from a true community collaboration. Throughout California, there is not a single community untouched by the need to care for individuals suffering from mental illness or substance use disorder; nor is there a single emergency department caregiver untouched by these challenges. Clinical professionals at the forefront of behavioral health care delivery assert that the best time for an intervention is early because optimal outcomes result from getting someone into therapy and support as soon as possible, but our emergency departments are not caring for individuals early in their disease state.

By engaging deeply with their community to understand where gaps in care exist and how to best fill them, hospitals in Humboldt County have invested not only in support that will alleviate strain on their emergency departments, but on a long-term sustainable solution for the delivery of behavioral health care in Humboldt County and a blueprint for other hospitals struggling with the same. Hospital Council is glad to have been a catalyst for the inception of this project and looks forward to continuing to share learnings and best practices.