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HomeLocal NewsNew MexicoBernalillo County, UNMH work together to create new behavioral health crisis center

Bernalillo County, UNMH work together to create new behavioral health crisis center

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Local leaders are hoping it’s a major step for how Albuquerque deals with those suffering from mental illness and drug addiction. The county cut the ribbon on a long-promised multi-million-dollar project on Friday near Lomas and Girard.

“Welcome to our new Behavioral Health Crisis Center,” said University of New Mexico (UNM) President Garnett Stokes.

UNM and Bernalillo County are hoping the Behavioral Health Crisis Center will begin to improve the lack of treatment available in Albuquerque for those suffering from mental health issues and drug addiction.

“In New Mexico, there are over 3,000 adults who need behavioral health services,” said UNM Health Sciences Clinical Affairs Senior Vice President Dr. Michael Richards.

While there are other behavioral health services across the city, this new facility promises to put a deeper focus on both crisis triage and outpatient treatments with services similar to group therapy and even overnight beds for those in recovery.

“Now, when a patient has been evaluated and discharged, and we are a little concerned: is this patient really stable? That will enable us to move the patient from the psychiatric emergency services to the crisis center,” said UNM Hospital Behavioral Care Service Chief Mauricio Tohen.

Project leaders said their focus was to create a space that works with the surrounding medical resources while providing a continuum of care to patients who normally fall out of care due to a gap in services. Many times, those patients end up in a hospital emergency room.

“The crisis center in terms of the continuum will enable us to avoid hospitalization. Yes, the goal is prevention,” said Tohen.

Realizing many people who go through New Mexico jails suffer from behavioral health and drug issues. The facility is also designed to be safer with upgraded security systems including a garage system.

One of the health worker tour guides explained the process, “There’s a bell outside that they ring to alert staff they are here with the patient.”

“This is a big step and something to celebrate today, but there’s still lots of work ahead of us,” said Dr. Michael Richards.

UNM and Bernalillo County split the cost of the $40-million project. The building will start seeing patients on June 25.

There are 16 beds that patients can stay for a maximum of two weeks.

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