Request for Investigation of the Triage Center

To: Lynn Ellins, Chairman, Dona Ana County Commission, Commissioner Ramon Gonzales, Commissioner Isabella Solis, Commissioner Shannon Reynolds,, Commissioner Manual Sanchez

From: Dr. Earl Nissen, 293 Daydreamer Drive, Lass Cruces, NM 88005

RE: Request for a Commission Investigation of the County Triage Center

Date: August 21, 2019

This is a formal request to create an investigation of the County Triage Center. I was a member of the Alliance to the Dona Ana County Department of Health and Human Services when the concept for providing mental health services to newly arrested persons to help ascertain their future was developed. We all were elated when the Commission approved the $2 million for the construction and funding for operation of the Triage Center. When it opened in 2013 a new approach to mental health issues of those arrested by our police officers was hailed as progressive and helpful to citizens. During the next few years many issues over contracting mental health professionals raised many questions as to how the contracts were implemented and supervised. This caused the center to remain empty for long periods of time thereby not meeting the community expectations of having a mental health resource for law enforcement to use when confronted with those with mental health issues. This has led to recent vacancy of the center and even being used to house emigrants which certainly was appropriate but does not answer the basic questions that should be answered by the County Commission.

As part of an investigation, the following should be addressed:

  1. When the administrative plan of the Triage Center was put together, was it to be the responsibility of the Health and Human Services Department to administer the Center?
  2. Was this to be a joint venture between City of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County? How much was each to financially contribute?
  3. What have been the problems with Health and Human Services maintaining properly staffing to have the Triage Center in operation at all times?
  4. When a request for providers was issued by Health and Human Services in June, 2017, how many responses were received and from which agencies.
  5. What happened to the $400,000 grant from Molina that was supposed to last until June, 2018 for the Triage Center?
  6. In 2017, La Clinica and Net Med were providers for the Triage Center. What happened that ended their services?
  7. There was a Commission Work Study session on Nov.1, 2017 in regards to the Triage Center. What actions or changes at the center were made as a result of this meeting?

The investigation of the Triage Center should develop a chronology of events that show how the Center was successful and not successful. Citizens need to know why all the confusion has existed over the administration and operation of the Center since tax money built the $2 million structure with the expectation of a real service to our community. Therefore, this request for an investigation of the Triage Center from it’s inception to the present should give the public an understanding of the questions being asked.

Dr. Earl R. Nissen