Hope Center to provide mobile crisis response in Garfield, Eagle counties under state’s new system | AspenTimes.com

Hope Center to provide mobile crisis response in Garfield, Eagle counties under state’s new system

Matthew Bennett
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Under Colorado’s new behavioral health crisis system, the Hope Center will serve as the primary provider of mobile crisis response in Eagle and Garfield counties.

“You can call day or night in any kind of crisis to figure out what is in the community that we can connect you with,” Hope Center Executive Director Michelle Muething said of the nonprofit that formed in 2010 and has offices in both the Roaring Fork and Eagle River valleys.

“This is not a new operation for the Hope Center,” she said. “We have been doing this for nine years, and Garfield County is our backyard.”

Since 2014, Mind Springs Health had held the state contract to provide mobile and walk-in crisis response across the 10-county region it served. However, as of Monday Rocky Mountain Health Plans took over and has since contracted with organizations like the Hope Center to offer crisis services.

To assist with the transition, Mind Springs will still perform crisis response over the next 60 days, in addition to its local and regional clinical and hospital services.

“Our Mind Springs crisis line is going to continue for those 60 days,” Mind Springs Health Program Director Hans Lutgring said. “I think that the important message that we get out there now is that there is no change in how people would reach our crisis services for (two months).”

Additionally, the contract awarded to Rocky Mountain Health Plans will not affect the vast majority of Mind Springs Health’s ongoing services, Lutgring explained.

“There has just been a lot of confusion,” he said. “From our perspective, there is going to be relatively little change in the day-to-day of the outpatient services.”

Mind Springs Health CEO Sharon Raggio stated in a recent press release, “We look forward to continuing our preventative work to lessen mental health crises, and assisting and coordinating with responders in the community when crises do arise to ensure our fellow Coloradoans receive the ongoing services they need to heal and recover.”

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said that it was unfortunate that Mind Springs Health lost the contract. But he was confident in the Hope Center’s ability to provide crisis services throughout Garfield County.

However, with its two physical locations being in Basalt and Eagle, Vallario said he also hopes to provide the nonprofit with additional space out of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Annex in Rifle.

“The problem has always been, we are asking cops to become behavioral crisis workers when that’s not what we are trained to do,” Vallario said, stressing the critical need for services like those offered by the Hope Center.

“Anything we can do to help foster that crisis intervention we are all for it,” Vallario said.

Muething said that the Hope Center wanted to ensure that people experiencing a crisis received meaningful help, as opposed to automatically going to the emergency room. She described the Hope Center as a community resource connector.

“Part of the shift is — across the state — they are trying to get people to call Colorado Crisis Services to be able to talk to someone, versus calling 911,” Muething said of Colorado Crisis Services’ line (1-844-493-8255), which connects someone experiencing a crisis with a trained crisis counselor.

“Our whole goal is to prevent people from being in the emergency room,” Muething said.