Mental health care options are expanding

By Hank Lohmeyer


Improvements being planned to mental health care were the focus of the municipal quarterly meeting in Paonia.

Roger Sheffield, vice president of development for Mind Springs Health, detailed the company's $17.5 million fundraising plans for expansion of the West Springs Hospital in Grand Junction from 16 to 48 beds. The current 16 beds at the facility located off North Avenue are the only psychiatric beds on the Western Slope. West Springs is the only psychiatric hospital between Denver and Salt Lake City.

The lack of beds has caused problems for Delta County and municipal law enforcement. Agencies must respond to psychiatric incidents when called. If beds are not available, patients can end up back in dysfunctional living arrangements, in the hospital emergency room, or even in the county jail.

Delta County Memorial Hospital CEO Jason Cleckler said psych patients have spent days in the local emergency room waiting for appropriate care at an available bed in Grand Junction.

Cleckler also announced an initiative between DCMH and the Center for Mental Health that hopefully will lead to a psychiatric stabilization unit being established in Montrose.

Cleckler applauded the Mind Springs expansion project for Grand Junction, but he said even 48 beds would not be enough to handle the need here.

Government and agency officials also heard from Kathy Welt, who reported West Elk Mine "is not out of the woods, though we are very hopeful." Twenty-two workers have been hired back from last year's 100-employee layoff. West Elk's parent, Arch Coal, has emerged from bankruptcy reorganization after only nine months. "This year is definitely a lot better than last year," she said.

• Michelle Haynes of Region 10 reported that broadband service in the cities of Delta and Montrose is nearly complete. She predicted that Delta County towns would have carrier neutral locations by year's end.