Glenwood Springs detox facility receives funding promise from Glenwood Springs council
A proposed detoxification facility could be partially funded by tobacco taxes collected in Glenwood Springs, following a City Council vote to budget $200,000 for the project in 2022.
When local first responders are called to a scene involving a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are faced with a decision: take the person to jail or the hospital, Glenwood Springs Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Doug Gerald explained to City Council on Sept. 16.
“Neither of those options are really what the patient needs, so we think this would be a real benefit to the community,” Gerald said.
Referred to as a “withdrawal management center,” the facility could focus on short-term recovery care for people experiencing the negative side effects of detoxification, said Sharon Raggio, Mind Springs Health Inc.’s CEO.
While the center could be housed in Mind Springs’ new facility, 2802 S. Grand Ave., Raggio emphasized the program would need to be a community partnership, with funding from the federal, state, county and local governments.
“We cannot do this alone,” Raggio said.
Although a portion of the Mind Spring’s facility, which houses the company’s mental health and addiction counseling and treatment services, has been set aside for a future detox facility, Raggio said about $525,000 would be needed to remodel the space and start up the program.
Garfield County last had a detox facility in 2010, operated by Mind Springs’ predecessor, and for a short time a makeshift facility within the Garfield County Jail.
Debbie Wilde, a contractor working with Glenwood Springs to address homelessness, said the withdrawal center could be a collective effort, with support from Garfield County, Mind Springs, Valley View Hospital, Grand River Health and Glenwood Springs.
“It’s not a simple undertaking,” Wilde said.
The possibility of creating a withdrawal center has been floating around Garfield County for some years, but Wilde said the debate typically ended the moment funding was brought to the table.
“This time, I said let’s talk about the issue without talking about money,” she said.
Glenwood Springs might be the first to set aside funding for the project, but the Garfield County Commission directed the county’s Department of Human Services on Sept. 7 to apply for about $500,000 in grants to cover the program’s startup and remodel costs.
If opened, the facility could house about eight beds for short-term recovery. Wilde said a facility with 10 or more beds enters a new licensing category, which increases costs and staffing requirements exponentially.
“I think the critical piece of this is it’s not about creating something just because we don’t have it,” she said. “This has been determined as a need by several partners.”
Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa said the city has designated the creation of a detox facility as a priority since she was hired.
“This could benefit the city by reducing calls for police and fire and relieving strain on the hospital,” Figueroa said.
Outside of funding, city staff are not scheduled to play a role in the withdrawal program.
During the Sept. 16, Police Chief Joseph Deras expressed a concern about communities outside of Glenwood Springs dropping off people under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the facility and abandoning them. Deras asked the City Council to consider creating a memorandum of understanding requiring agencies outside the city to pick up people they bring in for treatment once the treatment is complete.
Mayor Jonathan Godes told the council he supported the idea of a detox facility, but he said he didn’t think his constituents would approve of the location.
On Sept. 16, City Council voted 6-0, with Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman absent, to designate $200,000 in tax funds for the facility in the 2022 budget.
The program could be up and running by fall 2022, Figueroa said.
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at email@example.com.
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