Tri-County Community Services to close

Loss of behavioral health group leaves major gap in care for Taos, Colfax and Union counties

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Clients and patients of long-troubled Tri-County Community Services will have to seek behavioral health and  substance abuse help elsewhere soon.

They  began receiving letters yesterday from Tri-County informing them the organization would be closing its doors. "Our goal is to stay open at least to the end of August 2018," says the letter. 

Staff were informed on Wednesday (Aug. 8) of the closure. 

In Taos County, one of many in New Mexico already lacking any long-term treatment facility or detox center and with few options in behavioral health, the closure will be a devastating blow, say clients and providers.  Tri-County's clients and patients will be referred to other places, but the options are few. The organization provides mental healh counseling, substance abuse counseling and treatment and much more. 

"We are trying to do this as smoothly and humanely as possible," said Tri-County board president Paul Sands. 

The news is devastating for people already struggling to get help. "I am a client who receives Vivitrol injections once per month to control alcoholism through their pharmacy," wrote one client who asked to remain anonymous. "My antidepressants have also been managed by their staff. I was fortunate enough to get a three-month refill on those through their office recently. I was told that my shot will be given as usual next week, but after that, no one knows."

The board and Tri-County administration met earlier with officials from the state Behavioral Health Division.  "They have been very concerned about Tri-County for three years," Sands said.

The organization has struggled financially to regain some stability. It is heavily reliant on reimbursements from Medicaid payments to operate.

The decision to close "comes as a result...of the ongoing and compounded struggles that TCCS has endured and has never been able to recover from," read an open letter from the board. "After the past year of getting real and true financials, and identifying the full extent of the debts and legal obligations of TCCS, we make this difficult decision."

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said Tri-County had been a good resource for people in the community in need of mental health services " "and for law enforcement when we identify a person/patient of theirs that is in need of assessment, evaluation, or counseling."

"What their providers do on a daily basis certainly helps us in the long run. I hope there is a contingency plan. "

This is a developing story. Check back at taosnews.com for updates or pick up a copy of the Thursday (Aug. 16) Taos News. 

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