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Border Area director gives report on changes at Health Council meeting

At the Monday Grant County Community Health Council meeting, member Kathleen Hunt, Border Area Mental Health Services director and representing the behavioral health sector of GCCHC, gave a report on what has happened at Border Area.

"La Frontera out of Arizona has taken over our federally funded services, because with the funding cut off at the state level, we could no longer afford to offer the services," Hunt said. "Border Area Mental Health Services will continue to do juvenile corrections and DWI services.

"There was no fraud," Hunt said. "If we made errors, we still don't know what, so we have no chance to correct them. Whatever Human Services Department wants to leak, it does do, but it doesn't let us know.

"Border Area was the last agency in the state to be taken over by La Frontera and others," she said. "We are trying to make it a smooth transition to make sure the clients are not impacted."

Hunt described the change as a "hostile takeover by the Human Services Department. We are smaller and we will pull ourselves up and provide services. We had billed $800,000 for which we have not been reimbursed."

"What I ask everyone to do is talk to our legislators," Hunt said. "New Mexico has weak due process laws for health care. We want to mandate a name-clearing hearing within 30 days of an accusation. We need stronger laws to protect health care providers. If we do something wrong, it can be dealt with. If we can find out who did something wrong, let us fix it. If nothing is wrong, then clear the agency."

She said everything is the same for the clients except the name of the provider. La Frontera New Mexico is the new behavioral health name.

"Supposedly they will get back to me to lease the facility," Hunt said. "La Frontera has hired most of our staff, but I don't know what's happening in treatment and foster care."

Tiffany Knauf, Health Council coordinator, said she was part of a group that sat down with La Frontera. "We let them know we are not happy, but we have to make sure services continue."

Health Council member Mary Stoecker thanked Hunt for "the grace and courtesy you have shown throughout this process."

"It's difficult, but it's not La Frontera's fault," Hunt said. "I have appreciated their attitude, and we are working things out."

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