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RANGELY | Nearly 30 folks gathered at the CNCC Weiss Building Tuesday for the monthly community networking meeting. Called to order by CNCC President Ron Granger, the group hosted Mind Springs Health Care and West Springs Hospital CEO Sharon Raggio of Grand Junction whose presentation was entitled “Mental Health Matters.”
Raggio spoke of the continuum of mental health care in which Mind Springs is critically involved in Rio Blanco County as well as having a presence through the wider northwest Colorado region. The spectrum includes prevention—integrated care partnerships and community presence; direct care through the medical neighborhood and case management—inpatient hospitalization, being a bridge between services, outpatient care, crisis and substance abuse services; and recovery—residential rehabilitation, support services, social club and vocational services.
Mind Springs Rio Blanco staffers at the meeting included the primary Mind Springs contact in the county, Michelle Huber of Rangely, as well as Brenda Kohler and Catherine Eliasen of Meeker, and Tom Gangel, the regional coordinator out of Steamboat Springs. Raggio announced that they have been down a clinician in Meeker but are bringing in licensed clinician Kelly Garcia starting Dec. 11. Raggio thanked the RBC commissioners for helping fund and arranging for this welcome addition.
Ken Harman, CEO of Meeker’s Pioneers Medical Center, expressed appreciation for Garcia coming on board explaining that her services will enable greater placement of patients in the continuum. He also emphasized the need for more community-based training in “mental health first aid.” Julie Drake, county health supervisor, indicated such training has been scheduled, for starters, in January.
Raggio also reported that Mind Springs services in RBC are split roughly 50/50 between male and female clients. Rangely, where the primary need was substance abuse, largely alcohol, served 187 unique individuals in the last year. In Meeker, where the primary need is straight mental health, mostly post traumatic stress disorder case, 208 individuals have been served. Raggio explained that the whole system, starting with Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements, is shifting toward determining payment rates based on patient satisfaction surveys. To date, these surveys have shown RBC patients to be reasonably well satisfied. Meeker surveys resulted in a score of 82 percent “top block” vs. a national average of 75.8 percent.
County Sheriff Anthony Mazzola asked about the availability of new mental health beds and funding assistance for transportation now available thanks to legislation this last year. Raggio confirmed that six-bed, crisis stabilization facilities are being developed in Frisco and Montrose. She added that the Western Slope has had six such beds available per 100,000 population while the Front Range has had 28 psych beds available per 100,000, a “huge difference.” The Frisco and Montrose additions are considered “pilot programs” by the legislature, Raggio added. She explained that the funding source for this endeavor is the state marijuana tax.
Also mentioned was the Women’s Recovery Center that’s part of Mind Springs’ Grand Junction services. It involves a 90-day intensive drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, the only one in the state solely for women. The program allows children to stay in the facility with the mothers during treatment.
Julie Drake reminded the group that RBC is embarking on its five-year heath assessment process. She mentioned that as part of the effort she has reached out to the faith community and has found that they feel somewhat excluded from community mental health endeavor even though many of them have counseling experience and training. Work to resolve this dilemma ensues.
Perhaps the most exciting announcement Raggio made was Minds Springs’ soon to be completed new behavioral health West Springs hospital in Grand Junction, being built adjacent to their current campus at 515 28 ¾ Road, just north of North Avenue. The 63,000 square-foot building is to be opened in late 2018 and will offer a total of 48 beds for psychiatric patients. Sixteen of those beds will be dedicated to children and adolescents.
The total project costs are $17.75 million for which Mind Springs is only short $4 million in their current fund-raising, according to Raggio. Further grants and donations are “in the works.” Mind Springs knows the services of the new facility will be extremely helpful to their emergency room and law enforcement partners. West Springs is the only psychiatric hospital on the Western Slope. For more information and ways to donate, parties are urged to visit BuildingSanctuary.org.
An anonymous gift of $70,000 out of Eagle County has enabled the hospital to include rooftop-mounted solar panels which will provide about an eighth of the electricity for the facility’s operations according to press reports. There will be 68 panels with inverters involved at the beginning, but this array can be enlarged later.
Mind Springs maintains a 24/7 crisis hotline and mobile response at 800-207-4004.