Af­ter warning of clo­sure, Valle del Sol be­hav­ioral health to re­main in Taos

The Taos News - - LOCAL NEWS - By John Miller [email protected]­news.com

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.

Jesse Moya/The Taos News

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.

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