After warning of closure, Valle del Sol behavioral health to remain in Taos
After employees and top executives at Valle del Sol warned last week they might have to close their office in Taos at the end of the month due to difficulties in renewing their business license, leadership at the behavioral health provider now says the office will remain open.
In an interview Thursday (Dec. 13), Renee Edwards, CEO of the health provider’s New Mexico operations, said she suspected the license had not yet been renewed due to mounting pressure from Valle’s neighbors on Don Fernando Street, including Enos Garcia Elementary School. Edwards said the school’s parent-teacher association has expressed concern over the provider’s presence in their neighborhood since it absorbed many additional patients when Tri-County Community Services closed in August after a financial failure.
Messages left with Enos Garcia Elementary principal Gladys Hererra Gurule seeking comment were not returned by Wednesday evening before the newspaper went to print.
Valle employees also said on Dec. 13 they had been given notice at a staff meeting that the office where they come to work every week might have to close, with their jobs potentially moving an hour south to Española, where Valle operates another location.
Edwards assured The Taos
News that if a shutdown took place at the end of December, then she and her manager in Taos would still find a way to serve patients in the area, but didn’t know precisely how that would happen at the time of the interview.
She also mentioned a proposal from the town of Taos that Valle relocate to the old detox center near Holy Cross Hospital, but that plan has also not been confirmed.
But on Friday (Dec. 14), Town Manager Rick Bellis said the renewal of the organization’s business license was never in question – that it was always on track for an automatic renewal at the end of the month.
“They sent in a new renewal several weeks ago and it was returned to them telling them they didn’t need it yet and to wait for the renewal notice, so this may just be a misunderstanding,” Bellis said.
If it was all just a mistake, then the confusion appeared to extend to the highest level of Valle del Sol. The provider’s president, Kurt Sheppard, who works out of Valle’s headquarter in Phoenix, Arizona, also was convinced last week that a shutdown of the office might be imminent because the business license might lapse.
As for any concerted effort to block the Valle’s business license renewal at its current location, a public information request submitted to the town of Taos returned a handful of unremarkable law enforcement reports: finding a jar of marijuana, two reports of harassment and a request for a welfare check at Valle’s office on Don Fernando. No complaints against Valle were among the public records.
Asked if financial problems might have contributed to the warnings of a possible shutdown, as was the case with Tri-County, Sheppard said the organization is unaware of any such issues.
For now, it appears Valle will stay put.
In the meantime, Bellis said plans to move the organization to the old detox center – rent free, he added – may be part of a community effort to establish a “continuum of care” in Taos, a phrase that refers to a comprehensive system that guides and tracks patients with behavioral health disorders over time and across varying levels of services. For addicts, this often means detox, outpatient treatment and the possibility of long-term residential treatment, for which there is currently no local option for public health insurance carriers or clients in Taos County.
Administrators at the behavioral health service Valle del Sol in Taos say now they are likely to stay open once they renew their business license, after first indicating they might have to close at the end of December.