CRISIS TRIAGE CENTER MOVES AHEAD: UNM and Bernalillo County Choose a Site

The University of New Mexico and Bernalillo County announced last week that they have identified two existing buildings that will one day provide stabilization services for people requiring behavioral health help – before a mental illness or substance abuse crisis can cause them (or others) true harm.

The Chamber has advocated for a crisis triage facility since first seeing an effective model in Pima County’s Crisis Response Center in Arizona in 2015.

This crisis triage center, which does not yet have a firm timeline for its construction, will offer care and temporary housing for people whose struggles with mental illness or substance abuse might otherwise cause them to spend the night in the emergency room or even jail. The patients the facility will one day serve will be those whose needs exceed standard outpatient services, but who haven’t reached the point of requiring hospitalization. After a short stay at the triage center, patients will move on to other, longer-term programs and services elsewhere.

The two buildings identified will ultimately become a facility with separate wings for men and women and enough space to accommodate up to 16 patients with plenty of room for offices and common areas. The site itself is also ideal, with close proximity to UNM’s psychiatric hospital and even a courtyard for patients to get fresh air during their stay.

Bernalillo County Manager Julie Morgas Baca told the Albuquerque Journal she was pleased to make progress toward making the goal of a crisis center a reality. “We’ve always said that, and finally we’re able to tell the public, ‘Now we’re moving forward. There’s actually a building in place.’”

“This is an important collaboration between Bernalillo County and UNM Hospitals,” said Del Archuleta, President of Molzen Corbin, who oversees the Chamber’s behavioral health policy work. “It’s an important first step in building a central location where people in a state of mental crisis can be brought to get the immediate care they need, and be put on track for longer-term help.”

The Chamber congratulates Bernalillo County Manager Julie Morgas Baca, as well as UNM Hospitals CEO Kate Becker, on this encouraging progress on a project that will serve our community well for years to come.


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