Aspen’s ‘vital’ detox center to remain open
Aspen’s detox facility will remain open under a contract with a new company, though two other centers in the Interstate 70 corridor that were in the same boat likely will close, officials said Thursday.
The local facility, located at Pitkin County’s Health and Human Services building, was in jeopardy of closing earlier this summer after officials with the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health declined to continue allowing just one person to run it at a time. Instead, state officials required two people to be on duty at all times, which doubled personnel costs for the center, which is open 24 hours, seven days a week, said Nan Sundeen, the county’s director of health and human services.
The center provides a safe environment for people coming off drugs and alcohol, and is often the first step in quitting such addictions because detox staff can offer links to treatment services, Sundeen said.
Pitkin County officials only found out about the change this summer and had just a few months to find a solution, Sundeen said. That solution came about after a meeting with the five local entities that pay for the detox center — the city of Aspen, Pitkin County, Snowmass Village, Basalt and Aspen Valley Hospital — and discovering if all wanted to continue funding it, she said.
“The decision was that it’s an essential community service,” Sundeen said.
That meant all entities will have to pay more, she said. The old detox center budget was $290,000, while the new cost is $383,000, Sundeen said.
The city of Aspen, for example, previously paid $89,000 a year for the detox center, Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor said. Next year, the city will pay $115,000 for it, he said.
“It’s absolutely vital to the community,” Pryor said. “Jail is the wrong place (for a person to detox).”
Sundeen has said detox centers “decriminalize addiction.”
Mind Springs Health previously ran Aspen’s detox center, though a new company will take over the facility at noon Oct. 31, Sundeen said. That new company, Recovery Resources, is owned by Janelle Duhon, who has run the detox center under Mind Springs for the past two years.
Duhon, who will continue to supervise the facility for the time being after her company takes over, said she founded Recovery Resources to try to establish a detox center in Garfield County. However, when Pitkin County asked for bids for its detox center, she submitted one and won the contract, she said.
Garfield County’s detox center closed two or three years ago, Sundeen said.
Duhon said she plans to increase the beds from two to four, which will allow the facility to accept men and women at all times. Currently, state behavioral health officials don’t allow a man and a woman to detox in the same room, she said.
The Aspen detox center was one of three such facilities run by Mind Springs with only one employee working at a time, said Jackie Skramstad, Mind Springs regional director.
The facility in Eagle County closed Sept. 30 because the community could not afford to pay for the extra person, Skramstad said. The detox center in Routt County, where Steamboat Springs is located, appears headed in the same direction, though officials in both counties are trying to find ways to make the facilities work, she said.
Without the detox centers, people coming off drugs and alcohol would be taken to jail or a hospital in those areas, Skramstad said.
In addition to the detox services, Aspen’s facility also provides drug-testing services for local employers and local courts who order defendants to be monitored for sobriety. Employees from Mind Springs and Recovery Resources will work closely to maintain that monitoring, Duhon said.
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