There’s no way for a person to plan when and where they’re going to experience a crisis. Which means that those who are trained to help, like the staff of the Jefferson Center, have to go …
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There’s no way for a person to plan when and where they’re going to experience a crisis. Which means that those who are trained to help, like the staff of the Jefferson Center, have to go wherever they’re needed.
“Our clinicians meet with those in crisis and do all they can to work with them and come up with a plan,” said Matthew Enright, a licensed psychologist with the center. “We used to conduct interviews in hallways or in the emergency room, where there’s no privacy and anyone can hear what they’re going through.”
Oftentimes, mental health and substance abuse are interrelated issues, and a crisis can be brought on because of substances like alcohol or drugs. But following the shuttering of metro-area treatment program Arapahoe House in January, there has been a void in Jefferson County for those going through withdrawal.
The Jefferson Center, a nonprofit organization that serves Jefferson, Clear Creek and Gilpin counties residents with emotional problems and/or serious mental illnesses, is stepping up to fill the gap. Starting with reopening the former Arapahoe House location at 4643 Wadsworth Blvd. in Wheat Ridge and turning it into the organziation’s new Crisis and Recovery Center.
MORE: Jefferson Center celebrates 60 years
“We worked with Arapahoe House before, but we’ve never done withdrawal services like this before,” said Dr. Harriet Hall, CEO and president of the Jefferson Center. “When they shut down, we started discussing taking up this work as well, because so many people with mental health issues also deal with substance abuse. And we’ve found splitting up these services just doesn’t work.”
Under the new setup the Center’s crisis walk-in center and mobile crisis team, formerly housed on Union Boulevard in Lakewood, has made a home on the second floor of the building, and the new Withdrawal Management program is located on the first floor. Both programs offer services all day, every day of the year, and the location now provides a one-stop shop for law enforcement and hospitals.
“Now our local hospitals and police departments can take people that need help here instead of filling emergency rooms, which is so often the only resort,” said Catherin Hoich, director of substance use and co-occurring services at the newly opened center. “We have 28 employees that serve 20 beds during the week and 30 during the weekend.”
People in need of the Withdrawal Management program’s services can be taken to the location by themselves, police offers, medical professionals, or can be picked up by Jefferson Center staff.
“For us, it’s important that we offer more than food and a bed, and we really emphasize connecting people to substance abuse services outside of our facility,” Hoich said. “The majority of people we see may not decide to continue with these ongoing services, but we want them to be aware of the holistic options that can help attain and maintain sobriety.”
Having these two areas of the Jefferson Center’s mission in one place will hopefully make it easier for everyone to get the help they need, Enright said.
“We have a no wrong door policy here,” he said. “It means that no matter who a person sees here, they will be helped with the issue they’re facing.”
The Crisis and Recovery Center has been open for around two weeks, and staff are still working on perfecting the work and organizational flow. Currently, the goal is to inform the community about the work being done at the new facility.
“There is such a stigma around both mental illness and substance abuse, and many people have a very negative opinion of people dealing with substance abuse,” Hoich said. “Substance abuse is a chronic illness, and it is treatable. And we want to help do that.”
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