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FARMINGTON — The building that houses the Joint Intervention Program opened earlier this month.

The Joint Intervention Program is a treatment program that is part of a partnership between the city of Farmington, San Juan County, the San Juan Regional Medical Center and Presbyterian Medical Service's Totah Behavioral Health Authority.

The partnership also includes the Sobering Center, which opened in March on the same campus as Paul's Place and the Totah Behavioral Health Authority.

An opening celebration for Paul's Place will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the campus located at the end of Ojo Court of of the Bisti Highway in Farmington.

Kristine Carlson, the director of the Totah Behavioral Health Authority, said Paul's Place was named for, Paul Erhlich, a former director of Totah Behavioral Health Authority who dedicated his life to helping people with addiction and homelessness.

She described Paul's Place as the dormitory component of the Joint Intervention Program.

The program began in 2013 and has not had a dormitory before. Paul's Place can house 45 people.

Paul's Place opened for residents on Monday. Six people are living at Paul's Place, and seven people are in the process of moving in.

The JIP participants have the opportunity to live at Paul's Place for a year while they are in the program.

Carlson said the Joint Intervention Program is voluntary for participants, which is one of the elements that Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes said has contributed to its success.

"These individuals are choosing to get help," Mayes said.

The participants are referred to the program through law enforcement, the court system, doctors, the Sobering Center or the San Juan County Adult Detention Center. The Sobering Center has been a major referrer for the program, according to Carlson.

As of July, more than 100 people who stayed at the Sobering Center had entered programs at the Totah Behavioral Health Authority, Carlson said. Three of them are now in the Joint Intervention Program, and another four are in the process of signing up for the program.

Carlson said participants in the program must be spending the majority of their time either incarcerated or in the hospital or the Sobering Center.

The program began as a pilot program in 2013.

"Our pilot program had some extraordinary results," Mayes said.

The pilot program showed a significant decrease in the amount of time participants spent incarcerated or in detox or the hospital, Carlson said.

Carlson said she has tracked the average time the current participants have spent incarcerated since July. She said in July the participants averaged 10 days of incarceration. In August, they were averaging five days in jail. In September, participants averaged about two and a half days in jail.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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