County offers grant help to Colorado West

The Mesa County Commission is trying to help Colorado West Regional Mental Health pay for a treatment building and right the group’s financial ship at the same time.

On Monday, the commission approved the submittal of a grant application to the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program, in the amount of $950,000. The grant would allow the county to buy from Colorado West a 32-bed psychiatric hospital building that was built in 2004 with borrowed funds — funds Colorado West today is unable to repay.

Colorado West has stopped paying interest on the building loan as of the first of the year and “has missed the principal payment due in March” in order to meet its $250,000 payroll, according to the county’s grant application to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

Colorado West still owes $10,153,709 on the building, according to the application.
Various entities in the county have amassed $9,050,000 to keep Colorado West operating.

Donors include Mesa County, St. Mary’s Hospital, Montrose Memorial Hospital and others.

If the grant is approved it “will assist (Colorado West) in buying back the hospital facility from the financial institution that financed its construction,” according to the grant application.

The 8,600-square-foot building provides detoxification treatment to those contacted by law enforcement within a 10-county area on Colorado’s Western Slope. Last year, the facility admitted 577 patients from 27 counties, according to the agenda item.

The funds, if approved by the state, would help the county buy the building “and allow (Colorado West) to leverage other funds to retire debt on the three other buildings on their campus,” according to the commission agenda sheet.

If Colorado West and the county are denied the funds, Colorado West may be forced to shut down for failure to pay on the $10 million bond it got to build its detox facility.

“Current inability to attend to this debt will force closure of the hospital if financing is not restructured,” according to the grant request. “The psychiatric hospital will most likely close if this plan is unsuccessful.”

The hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is the only psychiatric facility west of the Continental Divide in Colorado.

Last year, the hospital was almost forced to close after a pair of audits. It subsequently hired a new director and has been working closely with Mesa County to fix its problems.

“Today, our year-to-date budget is at break-even, which is a significant improvement over last year’s loss of $800,000 and the previous loss of $1.7 million,” according to the grant request.

On Monday, before the commission unanimously approved the grant request, county administrator Jon Peacock said requesting the grant does not obligate Mesa County to cover Colorado West’s debt.


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