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About Mental Health

The 54 beds for severely mentally ill patients have opened at St. Mary’s Medical Center in the Richmond District, six weeks after Mayor

Mark Farrell announced the city’s plans to add them.

Forty of the beds are reserved for patients in San Francisco’s public health system, including some that may be homeless. The 14 others may be contracted to other counties or to private providers.

Farrell blamed the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development — the agency that oversees health care infrastructure throughout California — for what he said was an “incredibly frustrating” delay.

The office surprised Farrell and the city’s Department of Public Health by requiring improvements to the facility’s ventilation system, as well as a new fire safety procedure. St. Mary’s made the upgrades and received its certificate of occupancy on Tuesday.

“We’re open, we resolved the issues,” said Department of Public Health spokeswoman

Rachael Kagan. “We’re happy with the project.”

Farrell, likewise, expressed relief.

“Addressing the mental health challenges of our at-risk residents has always been a top priority of mine,” he said in a statement. “It’s simple — we need to help those who cannot help themselves.”

Now that the center is open, he added, “we can provide additional services to our residents who are most in need.”

— Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @rachelswan