By Lyndsie Ferrell
DEL NORTE- Rio Grande County Commissioners welcomed Social Services Director Jody Kern to their meeting Dec. 31 to discuss having SLV Behavioral Health’s (SLVBH) mobile Medical Assisted Treatment vehicle (MAT) parked in the parking lot near the social service building in Del Norte.
The mobile unit is part of efforts from SLVBH to help with the opioid crisis in the Valley by offering medical assisted treatment for those addicted to drugs. According to Crossroads Director and Founder, Dr. Ian Walker and Chief Clinical Officer of Intensive Services Jennifer Silva, the unit is traveling all over the Valley to offer mobile services to those who may not be able to make it in for regular treatment at their facilities and to make the treatment options more available to anyone seeking treatment for addiction.
In a meeting held earlier this year, the two Crossroads professionals spoke in Del Norte as presenters for the local Neighborhood watch and answered questions from the public about the efforts of SLVBH and Crossroads to help with addiction in the Valley. Walker began by explaining that the San Luis Valley was considered one of the areas with the highest number of addicts in the state and that through combined efforts of many organizations throughout the Valley, they were on the road to helping people find recovery.
Walker continued by explaining what they did at Crossroads and what they were doing to actively monitor the problem of substance abuse in the Valley. The clinic offers a program known as MAT or Medical Assisted Treatment. The team administers three different types of drugs that help addicts with their addiction issues. “We have three medications that we offer our patients. Methadone, which is the most common course we use for recovery, Naltrexone which helps stimulate the part of the brain that is associated with cravings for both opioid and alcohol disorders and the most recently approved Buprenporphine. All three have benefits to patients struggling with addiction.”
In the meeting, Kern asked Rio Grande County Commissioners for permission to allow the mobile unit to be parked in the parking lot near the social service building stating that the contract between the county and SLVBH would be on a month to month basis and would remain on a trial basis for a while. “I have emailed the parking space user agreement to you from SLVBH for their mobile unit. They are hoping to use a county parking lot for their services on Mondays. We have a lot of clients that would use the services available that have transportation issues,” stated Kern.
Commissioner Chairwoman Susanne Bothell spoke up and asked what the likely hood was for the county to have a concentration of individuals coming to the area for the mobile unit services. Kern responded that so far, the mobile unit had not caused any issues in other areas where it parks to offer services and that the contract could be canceled at any time. “If we begin to see issues or problems going on, we can cancel it,” said Kern.
Commissioner Gene Glover also spoke up stating, “There are a lot of concerns that come up in regard to the mobile unit and nothing is made permanent with the mobile unit because of those concerns and potential problems.”
County Attorney Ryan Dunn stated that he felt it was necessary to have the unit in the new parking lot where there was access to outside cameras. Commissioners agreed to sign the contract on a trial basis and closed the topic for the time being. For more information please contact SLV Behavioral Health at 719-589-3671 or by visiting their website at www.slvbhg.org.