‘We gotta do something about it’: New Mexico governing officials look to build behavioral health facility

Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 10:10 PM CDT
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NEW MEXICO (KFDA) - Governing officials and some community members in Eastern New Mexico met to look at the findings of a study that could lead to a behavioral health facility in the area.

Governing entities of Curry County, Roosevelt County, Quay County, Clovis, Portales, DeBaca County and Fort Sumner all came together to express the needs of a facility.

Initium Health of Denver, the company that led the study, said it was conducted due to concerns regarding growing mental health and behavioral needs in Eastern New Mexico.

The study covered behavioral health feasibility, which examined the potential need for the development of a community mental health center that would provide facilities for the delivery of mental health care services to the area.

Initium says the need seen in Eastern New Mexico is different.

“The unmet need is so dramatic here and the stories are so heart wrenching and while behavioral health needs are an issue across the country, it’s pretty acute and studies show that rural communities challenges are larger, but the exciting thing about this is that the solutions that we often think can be found in bigger cities can be found in smaller cities,” said James Corbett, principal, Initium Health.

Currently, facilities are up to a five hour drive away and as a result, many do not receive the care they need, putting the burden on law enforcement and other agencies.

“I’ve watched people die, behind untreated mental health issues and we gotta do something about it, there are people out there actually dying. I don’t know anybody in law enforcement that’s been to probably any crime scenes that hasn’t seen somebody in a mental health crisis who’s killed somebody or killed themselves and we owe it to our community,” said Mike Reeves, Curry County Sheriff elect.

Financing can be a challenge, but with recent funding like opioid settlement dollars, it is possible.

“The timing is great, behavioral health now is something that is focused on in many different communities and there are small communities, such as this that has been able to put their funding together, so why not us?” Corbett said.

The study shows the estimated capital expenditure is $45 million.

“The money is the issue but we are paying for it now. We are paying immensely for it now, in medical costs, unreimbursed medical costs and we owe it to the community to be better servants,” said Reeves.

This new facility would also bring in new jobs to the area, an estimated 400 jobs.

It would also look to build partnerships with area colleges.

At the end of this month, a final report will be presented by Initium Health.

In July, potential funding ideas will be reviewed.

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