Vista del Mar where every day matters

Carol Ramirez, Jenifer Nyhuis, Jetta Zellner and Debbie English are all smiles at the opening of the outpatient facility.

by Jennifer Tipton

Before that fateful night when the Thomas Fire destroyed most of the Behavioral Health Hospital located at the top of the hill on Seneca Street, Vista del Mar provided ¾ of the total psychiatric inpatient beds in Ventura County and was the only facility to provide adolescent beds in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura County.

After the fire, reports of adolescent suicides were trending upward, “this is what was driving us, so twelve of us stayed together”, said Carol Ramirez Business Office Director for Vista del Mar. She added, “that AND our leadership – she fought for us!” referring to Chief Executive Officer Jenifer Nyhuis. CEO Nyhuis acknowledged, “because every day matters”.

The very afternoon the Thomas Fire struck, Carol Ramirez was able to secure a location for them to meet. “The Residence Inn by Marriott in Oxnard opened up a room and gave it to us for the entire month of December for free, we met there a couple times a week”, she said. Fact is, since the Thomas Fire, they never stopped meeting, after Residence Inn, they moved to the home of Jetta Zellner Director of Clinical Services.

And on the evening of June 19th, Vista Del Mar held an open house for their new outpatient services facility located at 801 South Victoria Avenue, Suite 301. “The outpatient services here will include adolescents, the services are for someone needing help greater than what traditional therapy provides”, informed Jetta.

The 5days/week program is called the Adult Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) focusing on active treatment for individuals with acute mental illness and/or addiction issues. Attendance is Monday through Friday 9:00am – 3:00pm for one to two weeks with opportunity for step-down and continued care with the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Patients participate in group therapy as well as educational and family group sessions. Treatment team includes psychiatrist, psychiatric nurses and licensed therapists. Transportation is provided at no cost within Ventura County and there’s a contract with Hill Street Café to provide lunch!

The 3days/week program (IOP) meets 3hours/day and provides extensive short treatment with flexible scheduling with program completion within two to four weeks. Groups focus on tools for symptom management and sustained recovery.

Both programs include medication consultation and management, and aftercare referrals.

In the past, our ladies each had their own office, now there are 4 desks squeezed into one small room. Carol showed me her “filing cabinet”, it was a box with her name on it. There is talk of expanding into the space next door and once the inpatient hospital is open, administrative offices will return there.

While at the open house, Debbie English RN Chief Nursing Officer teased, “don’t ever put a nurse at the switchboard!”, but as she took a crisis call, she did not hang up until the problem was resolved. “We just really want to get back into the community – there’s such a need”, she told me. Debbie has been with Vista del Mar for 11 years.

While the outpatient facility is currently open, the inpatient facility (back on Seneca), is under its final construction phase to correct the damage caused by the fire. Utilities are being restored which includes the pump house that was destroyed and extensive electrical work. It is expected to re-open in August. The ladies give special thanks to Assemblywoman Monique Limon who co-sponsored the bill allowing them to open the outpatient facility while the inpatient facility was still closed.

To learn more, or refer a patient Please call: (805) 653-6434 Or visit:

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