Doubling Detox Beds

La Sala Crisis Center to reopen detox facility; crisis center to come

News Santa Fe County’s new drug detox center is based on a “living room” model aimed at welcoming those who wish to withdraw safely. (David Campbell Lozuaway-McComsey/David Campbell Lozuaway-McComsey)

Santa Fe County plans to expand its drug detox offerings in a remodeled space and, later this summer, plans to open a crisis center in the same building at 2052 Galisteo St.

The near-doubling of detox beds and addition of the planned crisis center comes courtesy of $2 million from a $4.3 million, voter-approved bond in 2016. It is supplemented by a $526,000 grant from Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and a $300,000 grant from the county’s DWI fund.

There will be space for 27 people to safely withdraw from drugs and alcohol starting in the next week or two, up from the 15 beds the county has now, all run by Santa Fe Recovery, a local nonprofit. It is the same building that housed Santa Fe County’s Care Connection, a long-shuttered previous attempt at inpatient detox.

There’s a new model, too, and the reworked space takes its name from it: “La Sala,” or “the living room.”

It’s built around a central room, where detoxing clients can mingle, watch TV, eat hot meals delivered 21 times a week from Santa Fe Recovery’s commercial kitchen and break off into a second group in a conference room. There will be optional 12-step meetings every day as well as education and exercise.

“It’s a much better experience if they are active and involved,” Santa Fe Recovery CEO Sylvia Barela tells SFR.

Clients may leave the detox whenever they choose.

The beds are arranged in two dormitories, a men’s and a women’s, around the central room. Clients identify their own gender.

News County Commissioners Anna Hamilton of District 4 and Anna Hansen of District 2 help Santa Fe County Manager Katherine Miller cut the ribbon. (David Campbell Lozuaway-McComsey/David Campbell Lozuaway-McComsey)

On Friday, county officials led reporters on a tour of the facility.

When clients walk into the 11,124-square-foot La Sala Crisis Center, the initial encounter is planned to be “not a receptionist up front, but an employee to welcome people and ask what they need,” says Alex Dominguez, Behavioral Health Administration program manager.

The idea to set a tone for people who, in many cases, are in the middle of one of the toughest days of their lives.

For now, Barela prefers people go through Santa Fe Recovery’s main location at 5312 Jaguar Drive for intake.

The nonprofit, which is open from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, does not suggest people go to the emergency room unless the situation is dire. In those cases, Santa Fe Recovery’s partner, Christus St. Vincent, will hold the client overnight and the detox will pick them up for intake the next day.

“We are trying to get people out of the hospital for detox,” Barela says.

Once the crisis center opens, an assessment can be done in-house to determine what sort of care is needed next—a heavily supervised detox or something less intensive. The plan is for the detox to be open 24 hours, seven days a week and to be staffed by at least two medical technicians, with a medical provider and a clinical provider on call.

Santa Fe Recovery expects eventually to have a registered nurse or paramedic on duty at all times, though staffing has been difficult, Barela tells SFR.

The detox includes a nurse’s office and a doctor’s office. The center’s med-techs will work 24/7 to check vitals, supervise clients and aid in medication distribution. That’s a step up from social detoxes and a step down from medically managed, which would typically take place in a hospital.

Santa Fe Recovery uses Ativan, Suboxone and other detox medications. The nonprofit is not licensed to dispense methadone, but partners with a local program to insure clients receive their prescriptions. Santa Fe Recovery does not offer a needle exchange on Jaguar Drive or at the county detox center.

For New Mexicans, three to 10 days in the center are covered by Medicaid or insurance—more if a doctor deems it necessary. The uninsured are covered by state general fund and federal dollars. The only out-of-pocket expenses will be for those with insurance and an accompanying copay. The services are not available to nonresidents of New Mexico.

The crisis center, which officials plan to open this summer, will serve people in behavioral health crises ranging from suicidal ideation to getting fired from a job with nowhere to go. Its goal is to give people experiencing a behavioral health issue a place to go rather than the ER or jail, with trained professionals to help determine the best course of action.

Disclosure: The reporter on this story is engaged to an employee of Santa Fe Recovery Center.

Correction: SFR misspelled Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen’s last name in a photo caption that appeared with this story in print and online. SFR has corrected the error online.

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