Local organizations pick up the pieces after long-running clinic shuts down

By Cody Hooks
chooks@taosnews.com
Posted 9/6/18

When Tri-County Community Services employees found out their mental health clinic was closing down, they jumped on the task of figuring out where nearly …

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Local organizations pick up the pieces after long-running clinic shuts down

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When Tri-County Community Services employees found out their mental health clinic was closing down, they jumped on the task of figuring out where nearly 1,000 people would go to pick up their medicine, talk to their therapist or get a ride to the doctor, all services the storied organization once performed in Northern New Mexico.

As of Monday (Aug. 27), most of those services had been handed off to other organizations in the community.

Valle del Sol of New Mexico picked up the patients with the most complex healthcare needs in the community. In total, 32 Tri-County clinicians moved over, bringing with them the assertive community treatment (ACT) and psycho-social rehab (PSR).

Tri-County and Valle del Sol were Taos' two "core service agencies," a state designation for organizations that are meant to be a clearinghouse for mental healthcare in a community. The agencies "coordinate care and provides essential services to children, youth and adults who have a serious mental illness, severe emotional disturbance, or dependence on alcohol or drugs," according to a New Mexico behavioral health website.

As Tri-County closed down, Valle del Sol became the only core service agency in Taos. It picked up the bulk of Tri-County's clients at the direction of the state.

But various other groups took other programs and services.

The most comprehensive transfer to come out of the closure was four youth- and family-oriented clinicians moving to Nonviolence Works. The organization is keeping the "family center" and its team of four providers in the same space on Salazar Road for the next three months, after which they'll move into a new office space specially built for their needs.

"Kids and young adults...are the backbone of our agency," said Nonviolence Works clinical director Karen House. The family center, she said, "is a good fit."

We asked, 'Who can we serve?' We would only take on those pieces (of Tri-County) we could sustain and support," House said. "All those programs have to migrate somewhere."

According to Mary McPhail Gray, board chair of Nonviolence Works, the organization has between 700-1,000 patients a year and 70 percent of its clients are children, young adults and students.

Simon Torres, Nonviolence Works CEO, said the organization could handle the influx of clinicians and their patients because it is in a strong financial position. Only three of their 31 employees are "non-billable" administrators, he said.

A peer support group for people who used to depend on Tri-County services has also been established.

"Peer support encompasses a range of activities and interactions between people who have shared similar experiences of being diagnosed with a mental health condition or a chemical addiction. Many in our community have been affected by the closing of Tri-County. This group will be the place to share your feelings, your frustrations and your hopes for the future as we move forward. Anyone in the community, including family members, are invited to attend," read a flyer for the group.

The peer support group will meet at The High Frequency Loft Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon at 1335 Gusdorf Road, Suite Q, in Taos.

See the graphic, which used information from providers and help Outreach Taos, for more information about other services. The main dispatch line for Valle del Sol services is (505) 867-2383.

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