Mind Springs Health gave this community seven days' notice that it would no longer offer walk-in and crisis stabilization service in Grand Junction.
Our first instinct was to question how any organization could do such a thing — alter an important social safety net without giving the community ample time to react. We don't have all of the information, but there is an aroma of barnyard here.
The community reacted nonetheless. Rocky Mountain Health Plans announced it would pay Mind Springs $183,000 a month for 60 days to maintain the status quo, including walk-in services, buying some time for the community to establish some alternatives.
Perhaps that was the goal of Mind Springs' abrupt announcement. We don't know. The story is still unfolding with facts to be revealed and deals to be made. Finger pointing isn't going to solve the region's challenges of serving those in crisis.
What we do know is that the way the state pays for crisis services is changing and it's been a disruption for crisis service providers everywhere in Colorado.
The Sentinel's Joe Vaccarelli and Katie Langford chronicled how a change in policy rippled across the state's crisis system and resulted in two things that brought us to where we are today.
1. Mind Springs said it couldn't afford to keep the walk-in center open.
2. RMHP now holds the contract to administer crisis services in 22 counties on the Western Slope.
The second point should offer some assurance to anyone who's concerned with what's going on. RMHP is a mission-first organization. It's mission is community health. It's already stepped in to keep those crisis services functioning through Mind Springs until community partners can build the network needed to deliver similar services in a way that conforms to requirements by the Colorado Department of Human Services' Office of Behavioral Health.
Ideally, the discussion about how to do that would have begun months ago. It's happening now in a compressed timeline. Rocky, Mind Springs and other stakeholders have 60 days, so they have to make them count.
Given Rocky's excellent history of collaborating and expanding networks of partners, it's not outlandish to think that whatever these stakeholders come up with may be better — just as effective but more efficient — than what Mind Springs was providing on its own.
"There are a lot of resources locally that we can use to combine and come up with somethign that will work well with Mesa County," said Jeff Kuhr, the executive director of Mesa County Public Health. "As a community, I feel we'll come together. We do a great job of collaborating. I'm optimistic and I think it's a good opportunity."
We concur. It's a shame that local officials are forced to work on this problem in these conditions.We'll continue to keep our readers updated as we learn more, but we have faith that the results will be comparable to what they might have accomplished with better notice.