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SACRAMENTO — Sacramento County is about to take a big step in addressing a critical need in the area — urgent care for the mentally ill.

The county’s new Mental Health Urgent Care clinic will open Wednesday on Stockton Boulevard, across from the UC Davis Medical Center. It will provide treatment and services for thousands of patients who now crowd hospital emergency rooms.

While hospitals are staffed to handle the overload, many say hospitals and emergency rooms are not the best place for those who suffer from mental issues.

Turning Point Community Programs is being contracted by the county to run the facility, which will provide psychiatric and clinical help as well as medication, drug and alcohol screening and recovery programs.

Doctor’s offices, exam rooms and meeting spaces are designed to get patients assessed and treated quickly.

The opening of the clinic hopes to reverse a cutback in county mental health services after the great recession eight years ago.

It may not be a coincidence that the number of homeless have increased greatly since then.