Clients tossed out of behavioral health safety net invisible to number crunchers

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By Sherry Robinson

Rep. Phillip Archuleta was steamed.
“I’ve been told by hospital emergency room employees here and in Silver City that they’re flooded by clients who’ve been turned down by La Frontera,” he said.
State Human Services Department representatives tried to reassure the Las Cruces Democrat that new providers were told to hire all administrative and clinical staff, that there was no need to furlough counselors.
Archuleta wasn’t convinced: “What you’re telling me is not what I’m hearing out there.” He added, “My office is two blocks away from the provider. I see clients walking down the street talking to themselves, looking lost. There’s been nothing smooth about the transition.”
This exchange took place a month ago, during the legislative Behavioral Health Subcommittee hearing in Las Cruces on the subject of HSD’s closure of 15 behavioral health providers and their replacement with Arizona firms.
At that meeting, Diane McWilliams, director of HSD’s Behavioral Health Division, insisted that the transition had been smooth, that 88 percent of New Mexico staff members — everybody except billing personnel — were still in place, that there should be no interruption in service.

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