FARMINGTON — Protective custody detox service could end at Four Winds Recovery Center if no alternative is found to make up a 54 percent cut from San Juan County's health care assistance program.

On Thursday, Jolene Schneider, director of the recovery center, talked about detox service's future during a meeting of the Four Corners Comprehensive Homeless Assistance Providers at the Farmington Civic Center.

"It does appear more and more clear that Four Winds is really gonna get out of the detox business. It's really just a matter of time," Schneider said.

Last month, county commissioners approved cuts to the newly named "health care assistance program," which was previously known as the indigent health care program. It partially pays health care providers' uninsured medical claims.

Ruth Volkerding leads the Four Corners Comprehensive Homeless Assistance Providers meeting on Thursday at the Farmington Civic Center.
Ruth Volkerding leads the Four Corners Comprehensive Homeless Assistance Providers meeting on Thursday at the Farmington Civic Center. (Jon Austria — The Daily Times)

Schneider says the center would like the detox service to continue through the fiscal year, which ends June 30. But it's likely the service will end before then.

There are 39 beds in the detox service unit, and in the last fiscal year, the unit had 4,041 admissions. Adults can be admitted into the detox service unit 24 hours a day by individuals, medical staff or law enforcement.

Protective custody detox service is one of the programs the center offers. The center, which was incorporated in 1979, also provides short-term residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment and outpatient aftercare services.

The short-term residential treatment has 11 beds for men and seven beds for women. An average stay is 30 days. The intensive outpatient treatment is a 12-week program that operates nine hours a week, and outpatient aftercare services consists of six months of weekly follow ups.

These three services are expected to remain operational, Schneider said.

In an interview after the meeting, Schneider said the center has been trying to negotiate with each entity it contracts with, but, so far, it has been unsuccessful.

"We are trying," she said.

The center receives funding from the county, the cities of Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington, San Juan Regional Medical Center and the state's Driving While Intoxicated Program, which is administered by the Department of Finance and Administration, Local Government Division in Santa Fe.

The center does not receive any assistance from the Navajo Nation, Schneider said, but there have been attempts to start that conversation.

With expenses like food, utilities and workers compensation continuing to rise, the center has reduced its operational costs, including leaving vacancies open, delaying maintenance work and comparing food prices for the best value, she said.

During the meeting, one attendee asked Farmington Police Sgt. Baric Crum, who was there to present an update on the Joint Intervention Program, if the department was looking at alternatives if the detox service closed.

"There's other opportunities out there," Crum said, adding that at times the jail has shown leniency in offering protective custody.

Marsha Bouchard, who is an assistant professor of nursing at San Juan College, expressed concern about the closure.

As part of the college's nursing program, students complete observational work at the center.

"Consistently, it has opened the eyes of our students to the problem and the stigma of alcoholism as a disease," Bouchard said. "That detox is terribly important because you are saving lives."

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.