COUNTY TRIAGE CTR – Letter to Mayor Enriquez

Dear Mayor Enriquez,
I realize this letter is long but this issue cannot be addressed in some short form. Unfortunately I am unable to get it to our County Commissioners because an offering can be no more than 2,000 characters. I am hopeful that maybe you could get into others hands. I will also be attempting to get it to my State Legislators. We need to turn the conversation toward long term solutions as this problem is not going into recession.
With the closure of our County Triage Center we should be facing the reality that it was attempting to put a bandaid on a gaping wound.
As follows is the argument for the need for a state run psychiatric hospital similar to the one in Las Vegas NM here in Dona Ana County followed by examples of where the concept is already being developed.

A compelling case for establishing a State Hospital facility in southern New Mexico, mirroring the Las Vegas, New Mexico facility with capability for involuntary holding, can be drawn from addressing critical mental health care gaps, enhancing public safety, and upholding the community’s welfare. Here is a structured argument supporting this proposal:

1. Comprehensive Mental Health Support:

  • Filling a Care Void: Southern New Mexico’s rural areas likely lack adequate mental health services, especially inpatient care for severe mental illness. A state hospital with involuntary holding capabilities can provide essential stabilization and treatment services for individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others and are unable to seek help voluntarily due to the severity of their condition.
  • Continuity of Care: For individuals with severe mental health issues, continuity of care is vital. Having a state hospital in the region would ensure that after emergency interventions, patients have access to long-term treatment and rehabilitation services without the disruption that comes from having to travel long distances.

2. Legal and Ethical Responsibilities:

  • Legal Mandate for Care: The state has a responsibility to protect its most vulnerable citizens, including those with severe mental health issues who may not recognize their need for care. A facility equipped for involuntary holding is essential for fulfilling the state’s legal mandate to care for individuals who are deemed incompetent or a danger to themselves or others.
  • Protecting Rights: A state-run facility can provide a regulated environment where patient rights and treatment are overseen by the law, ensuring their dignity and safety during involuntary holds mandated by courts or healthcare providers.

3. Public Safety and Welfare:

  • Risk Reduction: Involuntary holding facilities can reduce the risks posed to the public by individuals suffering from acute mental health crises. Managed treatment can prevent situations that might lead to harm or encounters with law enforcement, which are not equipped to handle mental health issues adequately.
  • Diversion from Correctional System: Without adequate psychiatric facilities, individuals with untreated mental illnesses may end up in the criminal justice system, which is ill-suited for providing proper care and treatment. A state hospital can act as a crucial diversion point.

4. Resource Optimization:

  • Relieving Local Hospitals: Establishing a facility dedicated to serious mental health cases would relieve pressure on local hospitals that might not have the resources or expertise to handle involuntary holds or complex psychiatric care for extended periods.
  • Centralizing Care: A centralized facility for southern New Mexico can ensure that specialized psychiatric resources are focused and not diff used inefficiently, making the healthcare system more cost-effective and capable of better outcomes.

5. Enhanced Community Resource Integration:

  • Collaboration Opportunities: A state hospital can better interface with law enforcement, social services, and local healthcare providers, creating a more integrated service model that enhances patient outcomes and reintegration into the community.
  • Community Education and Stigma Reduction: Having a state hospital in the area can facilitate community outreach and education about mental health, thereby reducing stigma and encouraging early intervention.

6. Scalability and Specialization:

  • Adaptable Services: As regional needs change over time, a dedicated state hospital can adapt its services to the evolving requirements of the population it serves, including the expansion to specialized treatments for conditions prevalent in southern New Mexico.
  • Specialized Units: Involuntary holding often requires highly specialized units for the assessment and management of complex cases. A state hospital can provide these focused services that are not feasible in smaller, general hospitals.

Economic Stimulus and Workforce Development:

  • Economic Growth: Building and maintaining a state hospital facility would stimulate economic growth in southern New Mexico through job creation and infrastructure development.
  • Healthcare Workforce: It will also contribute to building a local healthcare workforce, providing specialized training opportunities that could attract professionals to the area and encourage them to settle down there, raising the overall healthcare standard.

7. Meeting a Demonstrated Need:

  • Data-Driven Argument: Statistics on mental health crises, law enforcement encounters with mental health cases, and the capacity issues at existing facilities can provide empirical evidence that a new state hospital is not only justified but urgently needed.

In summary, a State Hospital facility like the one in Las Vegas, New Mexico, dedicated to the southern region, with involuntary holding capabilities, is essential to ensure a holistic, effective, and compassionate mental health care system. It would bridge significant service gaps, enhance public health and safety, stimulate economic activity, and demonstrate a commitment to the well-being and rights of the state’s most vulnerable individuals.

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Rob Wood

3427 Chimney Rock Rd

Las Cruces, Nm 88011


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