by Carol Bridge
RATON — Bo Beames, CEO of Miner’s Colfax Medical Center informed the Regional Agency Intervention Network (RAIN) at the September 6 meeting, that the hospital is unwilling to participate in any effort to repurpose the old hospital to use as a detox and treatment center.
Beames said the expense to rehabilitate the old building would be too great and the medical workforce needed in such a facility would be impossible to recruit. He recommends efforts be made to develop an outpatient model and to put money into existing agencies. He told the group insurance companies do not want to pay for this (detox and other) type of treatment, making collection for services difficult. Beames explained Albuquerque based Rio Grande Counseling Service may be an option.
The sudden closure of Tri County Community Services (TCCS) and the resulting confusion that it causes makes depending on outside providers less than optimal.
The purpose of R.A.I.N. was to create a locally controlled program or facility that would provide a continuum of services to people with mental health or addiction problems. Local law enforcement struggles to deal with this population and has resulted in both city police and the sheriff’s office being over burdened and under resourced. A center for detox, long term recovery and outpatient services was the first priority of the group when it was assessed for community needs and the needs are even greater with the loss of TCCS. Other New Mexican counties have been able to form community controlled behavioral health centers but after months of meetings, R.A.I.N, has yet to begin the grant application process.
Several people came forward to inform the group about issues pertaining to this local problem. Rich and Penny Kuhns spoke of their hopes of beginning a faith based operation that would help addicts to recover and provide them with job training. They want to address the attitudes of homeless people – sense of entitlement, poverty mindset – with counseling.
Tami Bumpass, formerly head of TCCS (Raton) and now employed by Valle Del Sol, the other community mental health provider, gave an update about the progress that is being made in transferring clients and records to the agency. She said Valle Del Sol had been accommodating to the abrupt changes and thanked both Senator Martin Heinrich and Representative Ben Ray Lujan’s offices for being helpful. Bumpass also expressed concerns that local primary health providers were not familiar with certain medications and seemed unwilling to prescribe. Both Heinrich and Lujan have sent representatives to R.A.I.N. meetings and wait to help with grants as soon as this community does what it needs to do in order to start applying.
Nancy Passikoff of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Planning Council, spoke to the group regarding the newly trained Certified Peer Counselors and encouraged local agencies and MCMC to hire them to assist people struggling with mental health and addiction issues.
Passikoff updated the group on the HERO program that will begin in the area and will be a system of community health and mental health provisions that will serve the area much as the extension office serves the agriculture community. It will connect area needs to UNM staff and deliver services both face to face and using technology. She also voiced concerns about children and adults being kept separate while waiting for appointments and noted that extra sensitivity should be extended to children involved with behavioral health agencies.
Pat Walsh, speaking for the Mandala Center and Raton Parks and Rec, gave an update on the summer outdoor programs and told the group that 60 young people had participated. He is planning on a partnership with the park service staff from Sugarite and Capulin to offer an outdoor leadership program.
Bill Sauble, Colfax County Chairman, gave an update on pending legislation that will have an effect on local agencies. Reciprocation of mental health licenses from other states into New Mexico has been a topic of concern and that progress seems to be happening with this. There are increases being planned in funding law enforcement agencies to attempt to counter the crisis.