Commission mulls new adult protection team

It will be up to members of an informal adult protection team to prove to Moffat County commissioners that there is a need for the team and the team may be facing an uphill battle.

"We have a program that is meeting the needs," Commissioner Les Hampton said. "It feels like we're just creating another level of bureaucracy."

The adult protection team is made up of representatives from the Visiting Nurse Association, The Memorial Hospital, the Craig Police Department and its victims' advocates program, a private mental health provider, the District Attorney's office and a representative of a local long-term care facility. It needs participation from the Moffat County Department of Social Services in order for it to fulfill its goal.

According to TMH Patient Care Planner Beka Warren, the team would like to review cases provided by social services and then, using the collaborate experience and resources of team members, offer solutions and support.

"There are pros and cons," said Marie Peer, Moffat County Department of Social Services director. "The value is in the collaborative effort. I think the collaboration is part of what will be useful."

Social services has not been part of the group because it was not official and its actions not sanctioned.

The problem, Peer said, is that the department cannot provide case files to the adult protection team until it is formalized and has bylaws outlining confidentiality requirements in place.

State statute puts the decision on whether to have an adult protection team in the hands of county commissioners.

The commissioners have asked that the team justify the need.

"My choice at this time would be to defer until we have data, not suspicion," Hampton said. "If there's a justifiable quantity by data, I'm willing to discuss it. I want fact, I don't want to hear 'we think.'"

Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said members of the adult protection team are passionate about what they are trying to do.

"I don't think they meet just to meet," Raftopoulos said.

According to Peer, the department of social services has received 30 complaints since Jan. 1, 2000, and has investigated each of those cases.

Of those, 28 cases were opened. Most were closed within a month.

Peer supports the idea of making a decision on whether to form an adult protection team on facts.

"It will be a great process to go through and do pros and cons," she said. "It will help focus the group's mission."

Warren said as funding dries up, resources are more limited, forcing the need for cooperation and coordination.

"By forming a group, we can put our heads together and probably help people better," she said. "Every one has a little different focus or discipline."

Most communities have some type of adult protection team, she said.

In Moffat County, it would mirror the child protection team already established to support the department of social services.

"Social services can be somewhat limited in their response," Warren said. "They're not allowed to get involved with an adult if the adult doesn't want help."

The adult protection team would deal with issues including exploitation, health care, abuse, home safety, mental health, neglect and financial issues, among others.

"There are situations that are not very cut and dry and the solutions are not easy," Warren said.

The adult protection team would be made up of volunteers and is not seeking any funding.

The Moffat County Board of Commissioners will discuss whether to establish an adult protection team at its July 15 meeting.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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