Glenwood Springs council approves Mind Springs partnership with emphasis on heavy oversight

Cassandra Ballard
The Post Independent
Mind Springs Health’s Garfield County office.
Rich Allen/Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Glenwood Springs City council approved on Thursday a detox facility agreement with Mind Springs but with a heavy emphasis on oversight.

“While I, like many of you, have some trepidation about the press and some of the things that have happened at Mind Springs, I think for now it is the best option that we have and there are off ramps that we can use if we need to,” city attorney Karl Hanlon said.

Hanlon said the agreement has been vetted through all the attorneys and all of the staff of the various jurisdictions. 

“I’ll just say, I’ll support the motion, but I have reservations about it. And so I will be looking for a lot of oversight from that government and all of their projects” said Council Member Shelley Kaup. 

Glenwood Springs and Garfield County are the majority fund contributors for the detox facility, while all other jurisdictions have a lot less money in the pot. 

“Obviously if Glenwood doesn’t participate, nobody else is,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if they signed on or not because the funding is not there. So, a lot of the jurisdictions are waiting to see what you guys do before they take action.”

Council expressed strong concerns with accountability, and the fact that they have already been proven to doctor paperwork. The city can perform audits financially, but wellness audits are not something the city has the power to conduct. Oversight will need to involve every aspect of the community available. 

“It’s a harder thing for us to get out because we don’t have expertise in that we can do a financial audit, we can’t do a quality of care audit,” Hanlon said. “That is one place where I would look to Garfield County to help take leadership on that particular piece because they do have a health department and access to resources that the rest of the communities in Garfield County don’t.”

Garfield County for years has lacked a detox facility, and with the solution so close at hand, it’s hard to turn it down again. 

“You know, for me personally, 20 years ago, we were trying to get a detox program restarted in Garfield County,” Hanlon said. 

Mayor Jonathan Godes expressed the strongest reservations being the only council member to vote against the agreement. He compared the organization and the constant media scrutiny to staying with a significant other who keeps cheating. 

He said he hopes to be wrong in that sentiment, but overall fears their track record is undeniable. 

“This is, I think collectively for the communities of Garfield County, a leap of faith,” Hanlon said.

Both Councilmembers Ingrid Wussow and Paula Stepp also mentioned the fact that detox is short-term care and not long-term care, with many avenues for people to communicate with outside facilities and groups involved with outpatient care and peer recovery. 

There will also be healthcare workers from Valley View, EMTs and many other members of the community outside of the organization working in close proximity to the detox facility. 

“We will be watching,” Stepp said. “It’s not just us handing them money, we will be watching.”

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