Crisis unit provides critical service


The crisis stabilization unit at the Moffat County jail allows patients in need of immediate mental care to get treatment locally.

Without the unit, everyone experiencing homicidal or suicidal tendencies is sent to the state mental hospital in Pueblo.

Treatment in Pueblo requires the patient to stay for 72 hours. But if the patient is treated locally, they only need to stay for 24 hours.

"We're having really good success with it," said Tom Gangel, division director for Colorado Western Regional Mental Health Care, which oversees the stabilization unit.

None of the patients treated have needed additional care within 24 hours of their release, Gangel said, although some have need to use the unit more than once.

Gangel came to the Moffat County commissioners last week to ask them to consider providing additional funding for the facility.

In 2004, Gangel said, the first full year of the stabilization unit, 42 people were treated locally. Of those about 75 percent lived in Moffat County.

But, the majority of the funding for the unit comes from Routt County, the city of Steamboat Springs and Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat. Combined, those three entities chip in $25,500 annually. The rest of the operating budget comes from the state and the federal government. Moffat County's contribution was the use of the jail.

Gangel is hoping to get $8,000 in 2006 from Moffat County and the city of Craig. He is worried that without funding from both counties, the Routt County entities will pull their funding.

"Routt County is really subsidizing the care," Gangel said.

The commissioners said they would look into providing additional funding, but also said it makes sense that Routt County fund a larger portion.

Commissioner Darryl Steele said with between 400 and 800 people from Moffat County working in Routt, Moffat County provides the housing for workers in Steamboat.

"We are becoming a bedroom community so we're housing all the low-income workers from up the valley," Steele said. "In essence, they need to be chipping some dollars down the river."

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or

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