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December 4, 2012
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Plan emerges for Aspen detox center, treatment

ASPEN - A new detox facility at Pitkin County's Health and Human Services Building, operated in conjunction with services provided by the Aspen Counseling Center, has emerged as the most feasible alternative to provide local care to those with drug and alcohol addictions.

Various agencies, including the county, have been at work on plans to provide both a detox center and treatment services in the wake of the closure of a detox facility in Glenwood Springs and the coming shut-down of The Right Door, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in Aspen that is scheduled to close its doors at the end of the year.

The goal, said County Manager Jon Peacock, is to have the new program up and running by New Year's Eve - a night when the demand for detox services is likely to be high - but time is running short, he conceded.

County commissioners will consider a budget proposal Tuesday that includes a $75,000 contribution from the county's general fund to pay for the detox facility and treatment services next year.

The payment can't come from the county's Healthy Community Fund, a tax-supported initiative that helps fund nonprofits, senior programs and human-service needs, because virtually all of the fund's revenues have already been allocated for 2013, Peacock said.

However, $30,000 from the Healthy Community Fund that was to go to The Right Door next year would go toward the new initiative in addition to the general fund allocation.

Aspen Valley Hospital is contemplating a reallocation of money in 2013 that it previously put toward The Right Door and the jail-based detox facility in Glenwood, which was operated by Colorado West Regional Mental Health Center. The funds would go to the new initiative instead, said hospital CEO Dave Ressler.

While some detox patients have medical needs and are admitted to the hospital, located near the Health and Human Services Building on Castle Creek Road, many do not. Those without medical needs would go to the detox facility rather than being held at the Pitkin County Jail until they sober up. The other option is release to the care of a friend or family member.

The goal is a "continuum of care," said Nan Sundeen, county director of health and human services.

A detox facility was operated previously at the Health and Human Services Building but without the intervention component. People often simply left when they sobered up, without receiving referrals or follow-up care, she said.

Aspen Counseling Center is operated by Colorado West Regional Mental Health, which has a great deal of experience with detox and treatment, Sundeen noted. It operated the detox facility in Glenwood before it closed.

"The co-location will help us link people from detox and case management," she said.

It will be a matter of walking down the hall from a supervised detox facility run by Colorado West to the counseling center, Sundeen said.

In addition to funding from the hospital and Pitkin County, the plan's organizers also hope for smaller allocations from the municipalities within Pitkin County - Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt.

A formal proposal detailing the detox/treatment program is expected soon from Colorado West. The hope is that the funding that has been identified from various sources will be sufficient, according to Ressler.

Colorado West's proposal is expected to be the focus of a joint discussion by county commissioners and the Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors on Dec. 17, Sundeen said.

janet@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Dec 4, 2012 08:16AM Published Dec 4, 2012 01:26AM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.