by Carol Bridge
RATON — A meeting of mental health care providers, local officials, and liaisons from Representative Ben Ray Lujan and Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, city and county officials and clients and client advocates met on Friday, August 17 to begin formulating an interim plan to provide services to the community in the wake of Tri County Community Services (TCCS) closing its doors at the end of the month.
This news came as a shock to local law enforcement, medical providers and clients who depend upon this agency to serve the community’s mental health needs. With just two weeks to attempt to cope with this potential crisis, the community has come together to create ways to minimize the damage and to find a way forward.
Jenny Garcia, client advocate, spoke directly to TCCS from a written letter and asked blunt questions about why they have closed their doors with so little notice and no transition plan in place.
Wayne Lindstrom from the NM Behavorial Health Department, was present but did not have a satisfactory answer about the lack of oversight and supervision attendees say his agency should have provided. Nancy Passikoff, a member of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Planning Council, reminded the group that there were newly trained Certified Peer Support Workers who could be utilized to ameliorate the stresses that confused and/or troubled clients may face.
This action by TCCS, according to some attendees, would seem to point to a need to create a community coalition to guide and oversee mental health and addiction problems of the area to provide additional oversight and governance of this and other such important service agencies.
According to Lindstrom, TCCS has been in dire financial difficulties for over two years and had minimal oversight from the New Mexico Department of Health. The agency (TCCS), has not been making payroll tax and state comp payments, and sometimes does not make payroll, Lindstrom said. Accordingly, TCCS found itself with no operating reserves, no stable endowment, billing and collection problems, no ability to apply for grants (because of its financial position) and no line of credit, said Lindstrom.
Renee Edwards, CEO of Valle De Sol (a mental health provider) based in Taos and Raton, has stepped forward and told the community her agency will do everything possible to help mitigate the situation. She vows to have an ‘open door’ and an ‘open phone’ for any former clients of TCCS. She also said she has received the resumes of several TCCS staffers and is attempting to transition them to her agency as soon as possible. She urges people to call for help or to have questions answered at (575) 751-7037 in Taos or (575) 383-2065 in Raton. The Raton office is located at 101 Letton Dr, Raton.
Tamar Bumpass, spokesperson for TCCS, in the absence of Rodney Gross, informed the group TCCS is also available to answer questions or to assist in transferring records. TCCS can be reached at (575) 445-2754.