Council will discuss detox center

— The Steamboat Springs City Council will be asked today if it wants contribute $1,500 a month for a trail run detox center.

The city is one of four local agencies being asked to monetarily support a program that would provide a place for drug and alcohol abusers to get treatment and counseling.

Last year, the Yampa Valley Medical Center incurred $158,000 in charges for emergency care for intoxicated patients.

Some of those patients were sick enough to be admitted, but many others just tied up medical staff.

The need for a detox center is not well known, Councilman Loui Antonucci said.

He was part of the work group that came up with a plan for a detox center.

Antonucci said there is no place to put someone with a substance abuse problem who did not commit a crime or is not physically hurt.

"There is a problem out there and no real way to deal with it," Antonucci said.

The request for funding, however, is before a money-strapped council, which asked all of its departments to slash budgets by 2 percent this year.

City Manager Paul Hughes said the city did not earmark any money for a detox center during its 2002 budget retreat.

If the council approves the funding it would come out of the public safety department's budget. And if the public safety budget does not have the money for it, the funds would be taken out of reserves.

Hughes said the money could be shifted in the public safety budget, and having a detox center could spare some money.

The city is asked to contribute $1,500 a month for the detox center's four-and-a-half-month trial period.

That totals $6,750.

It is the same amount requested from Routt County and the Yampa Valley Medical Center. Colorado West Mental Health is asked to contribute $2,000 a month, and client fees are expected to bring in $500 a month.

If the trail detox center were successful, the city would be asked to continue to contribute around $1,500 for a permanent facility.

Plans are for the trail detox center to be placed at the Routt County Jail.

One holding cell is available for patients to sober up under supervision.

Staff from Steamboat Mental Health will screen patients brought to the jail and determine if their conditions require medical attention at the hospital.

The plan is modeled after a program currently being used in Moffat County.

In that program, officers take anyone arrested or detained while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to a nurse at Moffat County's public safety center.

While the nurse examines the patient to determine if medical care is warranted, the officer books the patient into the jail if criminal charges are involved.

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