Alcoholism, mental crises tended at Summit Safe Haven |

Alcoholism, mental crises tended at Summit Safe Haven

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FRISCO – Maria was drinking a fifth of rum per day when she checked herself into Summit Safe Haven, the detox center in Frisco.

Having dealt with alcoholism for about 40 years, she’s attended many rehabilitation and detox centers elsewhere.

With the support of the Safe Haven and the access it provided to alcoholism resources, Maria recently surpassed 90 days of sobriety.

“This is the first time for that type of sobriety without being in some kind of facility. I can work on living my life and not feel like I have to be in a rehab situation continually to stay sober,” she said.

The Safe Haven has been in Frisco since January 2008 and offers mental health triage as well as drug and alcohol detox resources. In 2008, it served 230 people from Summit, Lake, Grand and Eagle counties.

The center – located in Frisco’s Medical Office Building – operates under a partnership among Colorado West Mental Health, law enforcement agencies and other health care providers.

But as state grant finances have dwindled and expenses increase, Safe Haven administrators are working to form a citizen advisory group aimed at finding a long-term funding solution.

The Save Haven’s 2009 budget is about $320,000. Members of the partnership contribute about half the costs, while others come from the state. The Summit Foundation gave $30,000 this year.

“It really saved our budget for the year – we were worried (the center would) shut down,” said Kathy Davis, director of Colorado West.

The patients are charged $200 for every 24 hours they’re at the Safe Haven, but about 75 percent of them don’t pay.

In addition to offering a place to sober up or chill out, the Safe Haven’s 24/7 operation saves regional law enforcers’ resources. Before the detox center, Summit County Jail had two beds for detox and people with mental health conditions, which led to complications on busy nights.

“If a detox person is in a holding cell, no one else can go in that holding cell,” Summit County Sheriff John Minor said. “So (Safe Haven) frees up our jail staff resources, and it puts them in a more conducive environment which is designed to address their underlying issues – because a jail certainly isn’t designed to do that.”

The jail also was unable to provide 24-hour service.

The Safe Haven, which has eight beds, is in the same building as Colorado West – which makes it easier for folks to seek outpatient treatment the morning after they’re admitted. It’s also near St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.

Many patient stay about 8 to 16 hours, though people with heroin addiction sometimes stay up to five days. About 90 percent use the facility for detox, with the remainder for mental health crises.

“It’s been a life saver,” Davis said.

The Safe Haven’s title was recently changed from the Summit Detox and Mental Health Triage Facility.

“It’s more palatable. It just sounds so much better,” she said.

Maria said that when she was admitted to the detox center, there were people there to listen and help her try to get comfortable.

“It was a very good experience. I want to stay sober – I don’t want to go back there, and hopefully I’ll never need to,” she said. “It’s definitely a place to give me that foothold that I needed.”

Folks interested in joining the advisory committee for Safe Haven may

e-mail Michelle Flake at

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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