HOY May Not See “Mañana” – County To Operate Detox Facility Itself
By Robert A. Naranjo
Española – At the Jan. 26 Rio Arriba County Commission meeting commissioners made the decision to take over operations of the county owned drug treatment facility in Lyden. The facility is currently administered by the non-profit organization “Hoy”, under a contract with the county.
The decision was precipitated by a presentation on detox services in Rio Arriba County by Lauren Reichelt, Director of the County’s Health & Human Services Department. Reichelt reported that the entire country is experiencing an epidemic with skyrocketing use of heroin and other substances. She mentioned the state of West Virginia as having a problem equal to Rio Arriba’s. She passed out a map showing progression of overdoses across the country with very few red dots signifying overdoses in 2003, showing only Rio Arriba and West Virginia with red dots compared to today’s map reflecting a red dot blur across the country.
Reichelt said that she informed federal officials about the problem in Rio Arriba County years ago and she said they responded by putting fences at the borders. “You can’t arrest an epidemic,” she told the Commissioners.
Reichelt also introduced Josh Trujillo who was a heroin user who became clean but his story demonstrates the need for a detox facility in the County. Trujillo is now employed as a counselor with the Inside Out Program, which assists users of a variety of drugs with recovery. His road to recovery, Reichelt told Commissioners, was difficult and exacerbated by the lack of a detox facility for treatment in Rio Arriba County. Given the fact that the County leads the nation in accidental overdoses, it points directly to a desperate need for a detox center.
Commissioner Alex Naranjo told Reichelt, “We have some good news that you will be very happy with,” but stopped short of what the good news was exactly.
David Trujillo, Assistant County Manager then gave an update on the lease with HOY, the County’s treatment center provider, HOY, does not provide detox services in the County-provided facility in Lyden claiming their location is too far from the Presbyterian Hospital in Española. Trujillo informed the Commissioners that under law the County has to give at “least three months, but four or five is better” if HOY’s treatment provider status is severed. All Commissioners stated that a detox facility is needed and if HOY cannot provide such a service to the County, then the County will run its own to curb the accidental overdose from opiates and other illicit drugs oftentimes mixed with alcohol creating a deadly combination. Discussion on HOY and its resistance to providing detox services led to a clear intention by County Commissioners for the County of Rio Arriba to provide the detox service itself.
Trujillo was instructed to give HOY the three-month minimum needed to place existing clients in treatment centers. Once that is completed, the County intends to begin running it’s own treatment center complete with detox services. “Terminate our contract with HOY,” Naranjo told Trujillo. “We can do it ourselves, we have the expertise and we can do it better.”