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Health And Public Safety

Commission Approves Behavioral Health Initiatives that will Leverage and Expand Existing Services


Tonight, the Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved three administrative resolutions related to behavioral health that will help to leverage and expand existing resources within the community:

  • Expanding the use of naloxone to individuals discharging from the Metropolitan Detention Center or Bernalillo County’s Department of Addiction Treatment Services
  • Expanding the medication assisted treatment program
  • Establishing an Addiction Treatment Advisory Board

“Through collaboration with our partners, we are seeing ways to enhance our behavior health care system and to address identified service gaps by leveraging existing resources,” states Commission Chair Debbie O’Malley. “Like putting the pieces of a puzzle together – each of these initiatives is a piece of a large puzzle that is the behavior health care system and its continuum of care.”

The first administrative resolution expands the use of naloxone to individuals discharging from the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) or Bernalillo County’s Department of Addiction Treatment Services (DATS) who have received the appropriate training. Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. Contractors and county partners will assist with the implementation of this initiative.

The BernCo Fire Department has been administering naloxone for the last 10 years and the BernCo Sheriff’s Department has been carrying naloxone for the past year.

The second administrative resolution expands the medication assisted treatment programs available at both MDC and the DATS campus to include induction and maintenance of methadone. The use of pharmacological medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, is an established evidence-based “best practice” for treatment of substance use disorders and has been endorsed by the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare.

MDC will be one of the few jails in the country to offer induction of methadone.

“The treatment of substance use disorders at the point in time when the individual is the most vulnerable is key,” states County Manager Julie Morgas Baca. “These harm reduction efforts will offer them much needed stabilization.”

Methadone induction is the process of initiating the synthetic-opioid medication treatment to suppress signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal, extinguish opioid-drug craving, and block the reinforcing effects of illicit opioids.

The two expanded drug treatment programs will be additional options available to those individuals who require continued drug assistance.

The third administrative resolution establishes an eight-member Addiction Treatment Advisory Board. The advisory board will consist of medical professionals and addiction specialists who will make policy recommendations to help align the county’s programming, establish consistency and ensure best practices for county administered programs and services.

The County Commission approved board members include:

  • University of New Mexico Hospital - Dr. Joanna Katzman
  • Community-Based Provider - Dr. Anjali Taneja
  • Opioid Accountability Initiative - Dr. Bill Wiese
  • Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) - Dr. Miriam Komaromy
  • Community Representative - Dr. Marcia Harris
  • Presbyterian Hospital - Dr. Daniel Duhigg
  • Provider treating addictions and mental health patients - Dr. Snehal R. Bhatt
  • Independent Consultant - Dr. Bruce Trigg

No additional county funding is required for these initiatives.

Medication assisted treatments and naloxone are sustainable in the community through Medicaid.

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