Executive claims program saved taxpayers almost $400k


AZTEC — A health care industry executive told county officials that a local program designed to assist people struggling with addiction saved local taxpayers more than $384,000 in 2017.

“We know that this program is a cost saver to our community,” Laura Ann Crawford, regional director for Presbyterian Medical Services, said during a presentation to the San Juan County Commission on Tuesday. “We’re saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The county partners with the city of Farmington, the San Juan Regional Medical Center and Presbyterian Medical Services in the Joint Intervention Program and the Sobering Center, both of which are located on Ojo Court off of the Bisti Highway.

The Joint Intervention Program identifies people who struggle with addiction and have the highest numbers of emergency room visits, days incarcerated, arrests and days in the detox or Sobering Center.

“There’s hundreds of people who are chronically addicted and cycling in and out of emergency services unnecessarily,” Crawford said.

Crawford said the goal of the Joint Intervention Program is to end that cycle.

Once those people are identified, they are connected with services through the Joint Intervention Program. Some of the individuals are ordered by a judge to enter into the Joint Intervention Program, while others voluntarily choose to participate.

“While we’re doing that, we’re also reducing the cost of the utilization of services,” Crawford said.

In 2017, 20 people graduated from the Joint Intervention Program. Six of them have been sober for at least a year. One of the participants has been sober for six months, and three of them have been sober for three months. All 20 of them now have a place to live, and 13 of them are employed or have some source of income.

A housing component was added to the Joint Intervention Program in 2016, and 44 of the 45 beds are filled.

The Joint Intervention Program also works with the Sobering Center, which opened in 2016 to replace detox services previously offered by the Four Winds Recovery Center.

The Sobering Center was used 6,014 times during the last year, Crawford said. More than 600 people were only admitted to the Sobering Center once in 2017. However, one person was admitted 124 times, Crawford said.

County Commission Chairwoman Margaret McDaniels asked Crawford and Farmington assistant city manager Julie Baird if there has been a reduction in the number of intoxicated people on the streets.

Baird said that is hard to judge. She explained that the former detox center that was operated by the Four Winds Recovery Center would keep people for three days. In contrast to the three-day mandatory stay at the Four Winds detox center, the Sobering Center is a voluntary program, and individuals stay for 11 hours.

In addition, Baird said there may have been an influx of people from outside the area coming to Farmington because it offers services like the Sobering Center.

“We don’t have definitive proof of that,” Baird said.

County Commissioner Jack Fortner asked if Aztec and Bloomfield should begin paying part of the costs of operating the Sobering Center.

Baird said there has been discussion of establishing a rate, and charging Aztec and Bloomfield on a monthly basis for each time someone from one of those communities is admitted to the Sobering Center.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.



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