A Fast Paced SLO


As Sierra Mental Wellness Group (SMWG) prepares for the next Fiscal year, which includes a 50-year anniversary, we would like to highlight and acknowledge our most recent significant service offering.

At times it seems like only yesterday we were responding to a Request For Proposal (RFP) from The County of San Luis Obispo (SLO) for Mobile Crisis Services, currently called the Mental Health Evaluation Team or (MHET). Team members respond to psychiatric emergencies in the field over the large geographic area that SLO County includes. That was in November of 2014.

The Agency’s Director of Crisis Services Ben Lopez and General Manager of Crisis Services Ryan Walsh, developed a structure that drew upon years of experience in the field which enabled them to recruit two key professionals.

The charge was to retool, redesign and implement a functional program serving the communities that encompass San Luis Obispo. Some would say similar to the mythological Phoenix Rising fame.

Christine Pirrucello Program Manager, MHET & CSU and Ben Jacobson, MHET Supervisor, became the foundation for an ever expanding pallet of services.

Fast forward 3 years to November 2017 where we were developing a response to another RFP for a Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU). The CSU provides critical intervention for those who need and environment in which to receive emotional, psychiatric and physical support in an effort to avoid higher levels of care. Enter Jessica Simpson as the SLO CSU Supervisor.

Both responses involved a great deal of late nights, early mornings and brain cells and, as you might have guessed, both were successful. Any celebration of the RFP wins was admittedly short and subdued given the weight of responsibility conferred with the award. To effectively operate a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week service involving life changing consequences hanging in the balance takes enormous talent, dedication and commitment.

We are all familiar with the characterizations of people running toward gunfire to assist others or walking into a burning building to help. These are accurate descriptions of people who respond on a professional level. The world is full of people who put themselves at risk for the sake of others without the need or desire for recognition.

The SMWG team members mentioned above and the roster of people they have put in place are of similar mindset and have the respect and gratitude of their Agency.