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Planning under way for new detox center in Glenwood Springs

Jackie Skramstad, regional director, Mind Springs Health
Courtesy photo |

A coalition led by Mind Springs Health and two Garfield County hospitals is working to establish a new overnight detoxification facility in Glenwood Springs, after an absence of several years for such a service in Garfield County.

Mind Springs, the nonprofit mental health organization formerly known as Colorado West, now operates five detox facilities for alcohol and other drugs on the Western Slope, including a 12-bed facility in Grand Junction, a six-bed facility in Frisco and two-bedroom facilities in both Aspen and Eagle County.

On and off up until 2011, Glenwood Springs also had a place where people who were overly intoxicated could go on their own or be taken by relatives, friends, police or medical personnel to sober up.



For several years, Mind Springs operated a detox facility in the 700 block of Grand Avenue. After that facility closed, a two-bed detox unit was temporarily housed in the Garfield County Jail for a little over a year in 2010 and 2011.

That facility was closed when funding and staffing problems arose, and due to concerns about the jail setting for people who are merely drunk and a danger to themselves and others, but not facing any criminal charges.



After the funding was cut, the program also lacked the important element of follow-up substance abuse treatment and case management, Jackie Skramstad, regional director for Mind Springs, said during a discussion Monday with Garfield County commissioners.

“This has been a community conversation for the last five years, trying to figure out the most cost-effective way to run a detox for this area,” Skramstad said.

HOW TO GET FOLLOW-UP

Nationally, she said, only 3 percent of people who check into detox centers follow up with case-managed treatment, where Mind Springs has a 24 to 34 percent success rate combining detox, treatment and case management.

“You really have to do it all in the same vein, which is where we have been successful,” Skramstad said.

Recently, Mind Springs teamed up with Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs and Grand River Hospital in Rifle to try to establish a new detox program in Garfield County, preferably in Glenwood.

“About two years ago, it became apparent to us at Valley View that we were seeing a lot of repeat customers in the emergency room who had alcohol and substance-abuse issues that were not being addressed,” said Dr. Al Saliman, chief medical officer at Valley View.

“We sometimes have nurses getting assaulted and injured on the job, so it’s a risk to us as well,” Saliman said.

Same as there is often no criminal activity involved, many times there is no medical emergency either, which makes it a hard call to keep someone in the ER overnight, he said.

At the same time, it’s critical that a detox facility be located in proximity to a hospital in case medical complications do arise, Saliman and Skramstad said.

Rifle is an option for a detox facility, but because Valley View sees more detox cases than Grand River, it still makes sense to focus on Glenwood Springs, they said.

SHARED COSTS

Mind Springs estimates it would cost about $700,000 annually to open and operate a detox in Glenwood Springs, including personnel, rent, operating and related expenses.

It also anticipates another $100,000-plus in renovation costs depending on the location. Mind Springs had looked at one facility in Glenwood Springs that would have cost about $144,500 to renovate, but that location is no longer available, Skramstad said.

So, the coalition is actively looking for a new location and soliciting financial support to try to open a detox facility by next year.

Valley View has committed $100,000 to be reviewed annually, Saliman said, and Grand River Health has agreed to $20,000, said Bill Noel, chief operating officer for Grand River.

“We have similar issues, but on a smaller scale,” Noel said. “It is a big morale issue for the people in our emergency department, and for our local police. It is something that’s absolutely needed.”

County commissioners said they are also willing to consider funding the effort, but want to see involvement from the municipalities as well.

“We’re also at a point in this region where we need to talk about the size of the facility,” Commission Chairman John Martin said, offering that two beds is not enough. “We don’t see this population decreasing.”

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said the city of Glenwood Springs needs to be part of the conversation, and a financial contributor when the time comes.

“This is not all on the shoulders of the county,” he said. “We need some commitment from the communities where a majority of these individuals are coming from.

“I’m not opposed to funding this at all, and I do see the impact,” Jankovsky said.

Skramstad said supporters are working to set up a community forum sometime within the next few weeks inviting participants from the municipalities, law enforcement and other agencies to help refine the plan.


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