Offering a ‘safe haven’

TMH directors to weigh drug treatment center

Christina M. Currie

Members of a citizen-based, anti-methamphetamine group think a local drug treatment center is a necessary step in eliminating use of the drug in Northwest Colorado.

Neil Folks, a member of Communities Overcoming Methamphetamine Abuse, said offering former meth users a “safe haven” would help some of the people he advises. That may mean a safe house or other place where addicts wouldn’t be able to find drugs, he said.

Randy Phelps, administrator of The Memorial Hospital feels the same way. That’s why, when approached by COMA member Annette Gianinetti about opening an in-patient drug rehabilitation center, he started the ball rolling.

“I think it’s the hospital’s responsibility to take a leadership role in anything that deals with in-patient care,” he said.

Diamond Healthcare Corporation has conducted a preliminary study and has been authorized to conduct a feasibility study that will include estimated construction costs as well as operating expenses.

So far it doesn’t look good.

If the hospital captures 85 percent of the need, that’s nearly eight beds occupied by a population that is generally considered medically indigent, Phelps said.

The need is there, the report indicates, but the revenue may not be.

“It’s not so clear that a program will work,” said Wallace Smith with Diamond Healthcare. But he added, “If there is a group there that is interested in fighting drug abuse and can get funding for treatment for those patients, there is enough need to make it work.”

Phelps said COMA members are working on ways to fund patient stays at a treatment center, which he thinks would offer a four- to six-week program.

“COMA believes there is a need for a treatment program that is at least four to six weeks in duration so a chemically dependent person can get totally free of the substance,” Phelps said. “I think they’re absolutely on target, but whether we have the resources to build is the question.”

The value of the study is $25,000, but it will be free to TMH because of its relationship with its management group, Quorum Healthcare.

Phelps will report the preliminary findings to the hospital’s board of directors at the hospital’s regular meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. today in the Platinum conference room of the hospital.

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