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“They kick us to the curb”: Employee reacts to sudden closing of Valley mental health facility

Thursday, June 30th marks the last day for employees at RI International Mental Health Urgent Care in Palm Springs.

Peer Support Specialist, Jessica Hurst, has been with the company for almost 4 years.

“I felt violated, I felt used, I felt like I didn’t matter. That none of us mattered to this company. That we’re disposable people," Hurst said.

On June 6th, Hurst and about 25 other employees were told their location would be permanently closing. “Three weeks to get our stuff together and find other employment or figure out what we’re going to do moving forward.”

She said this location serves up to 300 people a month, giving free care to those suffering with mental health problems or substance abuse.

“They’re gonna be lost. They’re gonna be lost. They come to us because they trust us and for some people it takes 2 or 3 times to just get them in the door. Because they’re scared and they don’t trust anybody," Hurst explained, "And we’ve become their support system to them.”

And by shutting down the Palm Springs location, she said it will leave many of them with nowhere to go.

“They’re gonna be committing crimes and they’re going to be going to jail for stupid stuff. And the hospitals are gonna be over flooded, and the ERs are gonna be crazy full of people that are just trying to get help.”

Over the past year, Hurst told me they’ve been consistently short-staffed. Many of the employees have had to work overtime to keep the place running. “We strive to have peers here but it doesn’t always happen. I’ve literally been alone in this building with guests this last week. Just me, nobody else here but me.”

Hurst said employees were also promised a bonus that would be 3% of their gross pay from over the last year. But this week, they received an email stating that bonus is now pay raise that only applies to anyone who continues to work through July. The raise would only begin a day after the Palm Springs location closes.

“They use us, to get done what they need done and then they’re done with us and they kick us to the curb.”

News Channel 3 reached out to RI International for comment, but have not received a response.

Email from RI International to employees at Palm Springs location
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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.

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