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December 18, 2012
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Detox plan takes shape in Aspen

ASPEN - Aspen will have a temporary detox facility on New Year's Eve and a permanent facility early in 2013.

Plans for a new community detoxification facility, paired with efforts to get clients who sober up there into treatment, were outlined Monday during a joint meeting of Pitkin County commissioners and the Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors.

Colorado West Regional Mental Health will operate an on-call, two-bed detox facility in the county's Health and Human Services Building near the hospital, where detox services were previously located during the 1990s. The goal is to open the doors in early January.

The facility will be voluntary, offering short-term stays of eight to 12 hours and nonmedical treatment services. In addition, the staff will make an effort to educate clients about treatment options, sign them up and follow up for as many as 90 days with clients who decline treatment.

"It's truly a voluntary detox. People have to be willing to come. It is not a locked facility," said Krista McClinton, regional director of Colorado West. Combative patients will not be accepted, she said.

At present, people in Aspen and Pitkin County who need a place to sober up may be taken to the county jail or the hospital; many are released to a responsible friend or family member. A coalition of community agencies, including law enforcement officials, has been exploring a new option in the wake of October's closing of Colorado West's detox center at the Garfield County Jail along with the imminent closure of The Right Door in Aspen. The latter agency does not offer detox supervision but has provided case management, referral services, transportation to detox facilities and drug testing.

At the new detox facility, Colorado West will provide on-call service and drug testing as well as referrals. It also operates the Aspen Counseling Center in the same building.

"If we can and the client agrees to treatment, we'll try to make an appointment before they walk out the door," McClinton said.

For New Year's Eve and other big events, a larger facility will be set up. A detox facility will operate out of the Rio Grande Commons in Aspen on Dec. 31, McClinton said. Detox was offered at the commons during last winter's X Games, as well.

Projected use of the new facility in its first year includes 300 detox cases, managing the cases of 280 individuals referred by the courts and other agencies, and providing about 3,100 drug tests. Colorado West anticipates getting 23 to 30 percent of clients who stay at the facility into treatment.

"We're going to have those individuals who come back to detox," McClinton said. "Part of recovery is relapse. We're never going to turn anybody away."

Decreasing the time law enforcement officers and hospital personnel spend dealing with intoxicated individuals is among the program's goals, she said.

The new program will be modeled after successful detox efforts operated by Colorado West in Frisco and Eagle County.

First-year costs for the operation are projected at $273,445. Money that went to The Right Door, primarily from the hospital and the county, will total $240,600, but Colorado West hopes expenses and revenues will even out over the first two years of the program's operation.

Both commissioners and the hospital board have already agreed to devote funds to the new effort.

"I think the on-call model makes a lot of sense," said hospital CEO Dave Ressler.

"This, to me, makes great sense. Let's see if this model works," said John Sarpa, chairman of the hospital board.

janet@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Dec 18, 2012 07:18AM Published Dec 18, 2012 12:20AM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.