Mental health services are in flux

Mental health services are in flux

Emergency RAIN meeting to discuss the closure of Tri County Community Services

by Carol Bridge

RATON — In an emergency meeting of RAIN (Regional Area Interagency Network) , the community learned of the closure of Tri County Community Services (TCCS). The agency’s last day will be August 31.

Long time financial difficulties were given as the reason in a letter sent out by Tri County CEO Rodney Gross, followed by a letter from TCCS’ president, Paul Sands. The financial problems began back in 2013 when Governor Susana Martinez made sweeping changes to the way mental health care was delivered in Colfax, Union, and Taos counties, by replacing local agencies with out of state corporate providers.

After careful study, the board made the decision to end Tri County Community Services, leaving 375 local people without support unless emergency plans can be put in place.

Representative Ben Ray Lujan met with area leaders to discuss this problem and to try to come up with a temporary plan to lead to a long term solution. Every local arm of government and health care provider, including Colfax County, the City of Raton, Miners Colfax Medical Center and the New Mexico Health Department attended and a temporary plan is being worked on.

The closure is potentially upsetting to clients so every effort is being made to alleviate anxiety and to provide a continuum of care. MCMC is expecting an upswing in patients in the ER and has begun to make plans to accommodate this need. City and county law enforcement will be provided further training and support. Paul Jenkins of GrowRaton!, described this as a ‘Ute Park Fire’ in local mental health and asked if federal and state assistance could be made available. The office of Representative Lujan has already begun to assist the area in finding solutions, both short and long term.

The purpose of RAIN was to facilitate a group of area leaders to create solutions to the area’s ongoing problems of chemical addiction and mental health needs. The closure of TCCS has served as a catalyst to hasten solutions.