Mental health director outlines ambitious plans

Debra Moore
Staff Writer
Mental Health Director Peter Livingston wants to establish fully staffed mental health clinics, complete with telepsychiatry services, in each of the four major communities in Plumas County. 

His mission includes locating new offices in Greenville and Chester to replace current space that he describes as “substandard.”

Livingston presented his plans to the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 14. His presentation included a one-page photocopy of sticky notes that helped him organize his plan, as well as a nine-page typed document that provided the pertinent details.

The plan identifies an immediate need for seven additional staff members, as well as a longer-term need for four more.

“For over three years the department has been understaffed,” Livingston said, explaining that the situation has led to a decrease in the quality, quantity and timeliness of services. 

In addition to a staffing shortage, Livingston said the other major problem facing his department is a transition to telepsychiatry that was “not well thought out or planned for.”

“Can you afford this?” Supervisor Terry Swofford asked at the conclusion of the presentation.

Livingston said that he had funds available through a variety of sources, and that he hoped those funds could be augmented via collaborative efforts with other departments and programs.

In developing a three-year plan for the mental health department, Livingston wants to schedule public meetings that involve the citizens of Plumas County, which he considers a “valuable resource.”

“Community outreach is a big job,” said Jon Kennedy, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. 

Kennedy also complimented Livingston for what he described as “a pretty good snapshot of what you want to do.”

Livingston’s plans will require about a dozen board actions to implement the changes, including adding staff and increasing salaries. 

Supervisors Sherrie Thrall and Lori Simpson both said they liked receiving an overview of the mental health department and Livingston’s plans for it.

Reached for comment after the meeting, Livingston said he thought his presentation was well-received by the supervisors and he would begin moving forward slowly with the agenda items to implement his plans. 

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