All La Plata County drug court participants must now travel outside the area for inpatient treatment after the closure of residential treatment services in Ignacio.
Most drug court participants receive outpatient care, but some need more intense residential care, said Lisa Roberts, problem-solving courts coordinator for the 6th Judicial District.
“Ideally, we want clients to remain in the community, and if necessary, increase their level of outpatient treatment; but sometimes, they need more care and time to really focus on recovering,” she said.
Currently, about five clients are receiving inpatient treatment through drug court, an alternative to the traditional court system for teens and adults who have committed nonviolent drug crimes. Drug court serves between 35 to 40 participants at any given time, Roberts said.
Peaceful Spirit, a program of Southern Ute Community Action Programs, served a few inpatient drug court clients per year before it closed its inpatient program Sept. 30.
Peaceful Spirit had about 10 beds and contracted with Native American tribes in the Albuquerque area to provide care, said Executive Director Eileen Wasserbach. It would accept non-Native American patients when it had space available, she said.
SUCAP was largely funded by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, but in August, the Tribal Council announced it will withdraw all funding to SUCAP by Dec. 31, saying federal grants intended to serve Native Americans were not being used for that purpose, according to a news release.
Since that announcement, SUCAP has changed its name to Southern Colorado Community Action Agency and is focused on rebuilding its programs.
Peaceful Spirit is among several inpatient treatment centers in the state to close its doors or discontinue inpatient treatment recently, Roberts said. The Circle Program in Pueblo and the Arapahoe House in Aurora also have closed, she said.
“This has presented a very difficult challenge,” Roberts said.
Drug court clients can wait weeks or months to get into a residential treatment facility, Roberts said.
Most La Plata County clients are sent to Summit View Drug Treatment Center in Grand Junction, which runs a 90-day treatment program.
Summit View can care for 24 people at any one time, and patients generally wait between 30 and 90 days for care, Clinical Director Jason Talley said.
The clinic is run by Mesa County and contracts with the state of Colorado to serve offenders, he said. Many drug treatment organizations across the state struggle financially, in part, because they can’t be reimbursed by Medicaid for residential drug treatment, he said.
Durango Recovery Center, on Goeglein Gulch Road, offered private inpatient drug treatment, but it recently closed and was never an option for drug court participants.
“Outside of Peaceful Spirit, we have not had a local, established inpatient treatment option that is accessible to our clients. By accessible, I mean an affordable option,” Roberts said.
Drug court clients with financial means may pay for their treatment, or a portion of their treatment. But often, La Plata County probation covers the cost through funds specifically designated for treatment, she said.
In addition to ending its inpatient program, Peaceful Spirit expects to close its outpatient treatment by Oct. 24.
However, by the end of the year, SoCoCAA plans to restart drug testing and classes for those who have received DUIs, Wasserbach said. But the nonprofit is not sure where those services will be offered.
In addition to ending funding to the nonprofit, the tribe does not plan to renew its leases with the organization.