UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center

UNM Sandoval County Regional Medical Center, like every hospital, has focused on COVID efforts while non-COVID programs were forced to temporarily take the back seat.
In November 2018, voters approved a mill-levy that — according to the county health facilities agreement — is a property tax under the Hospital Funding Act, providing money for medical, surgical, behavioral-health and emergency services.
Due to the pandemic, a crisis intervention program that would allow law enforcement to team up with social workers has stalled.
SRMC President and CEO Jamie Silva-Steele said it has been a priority of the Sandoval County Behavioral Health Coalition to start such a program.
“We have the plan. We just haven’t executed it, due to response related to COVID, and others. I think that needs to be a conversation with the county; is that still a priority? It was and has been a priority of the coalition, but the question is, does the county still see that as something they want us to pursue?” she asked.
Sandoval County Manager Wayne Johnson said this partnership with law enforcement is needed, but he’s unsure about where it is among the county commission’s priorities.
At the Thursday night Sandoval County Commission meeting, Silva-Steele presented to commissioners at the county administrative building, updating them on progress being made with mill levy funds. Over $3.5 million was estimated to be awarded to SRMC in levy funds through Dec. 31 of this fiscal year, according to unaudited numbers in Silva-Steele’s presentation.
Nearly $733,400 of mill-levy money is used for behavioral health and about $2.3 million goes to trauma, leaving about $526,000 for the county detention center mental health services. At the detention center, numbers have remained steady, with about 500 mental health visits per fiscal quarter.
Commissioner Kenneth Eichwald, District 5, asked for a similar program for the courts.
“Something needs to be done to assist the courts with these people. … Because most of the behavioral-health people are repeat offenders,” Eichwald said.
Johnson said he would set up a meeting with district judges and SRMC.
“The trauma is certainly important to be able to take care of patients, but behavioral-health has been an issue at the county a long time,” said Commissioner Michael Meek, District 3.
With levy dollars, SRMC opened the University of New Mexico Medical Group Clinic at the Health Sciences Rio Rancho Campus. About $216,000 in behavioral health funds went to the clinic, according to Silva-Steele’s presentation.
Trauma care has made progress as well, Silva-Steele said. The week of Oct. 20, internal mock trauma drills began, and trauma services went live Oct. 27.
The next county commission meeting will be streamed live Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.

Staff writer at Rio Rancho Observer