Community Editorial Board: Proposed Adolescent Mental Health Facility

Community Editorial Board: Proposed Adolescent Mental Health Facility

Members of our Community Editorial Board, a group of community residents engaged and passionate about local issues, answer the following question: The Boulder County Planning Commission has voted to recommend that the Alps Boulder Canyon Inn be transformed in a residential facility for adolescents with moderate mental health symptoms. Your opinion ?

According to a myriad of reports, adolescent mental health is in crisis. My personal research has shown that there is a shortage of youth mental health providers in the area. Therapists have long waiting lists and many do not carry insurance, which puts therapy beyond the realm of many families whose children may be struggling. Sandstone Care, the company that applied for a special use permit to turn the Alps Inn into a hospital treatment center for teenagers, accepts most insurance but not Medicaid or Medicare, according to the company’s website (sandstonecare .com/admissions). Sandstone Care already operates a rehabilitation center and therapy center in Broomfield, so transforming the Alps Inn wouldn’t be the company’s first foray into the Boulder area.

Is this a good use of the Alps Inn? For families whose teens can receive transformative care, yes. For therapists, administrators, cooks and other employees who will have a stable job, yes.

Still, neighbors’ concerns that runaway teenagers might break in — or worse — are valid. Before approving this use of the facility, Boulder County must ensure that Sandstone Care has adequate insurance as well as emergency and communication plans in place so that when the worst happens, a a clear and immediate notification and response system is in place. My cursory research suggests that Sandstone Care is a sprawling, for-profit business, which may bode both good and bad for the operation. On the one hand, the company has the necessary resources to ensure compliance, adequate personnel and security. On the other hand, large corporations are not always known for taking local concerns seriously. I understand why the neighbors of the Alpes Inn are concerned; I would be too.

But if this isn’t a mental health treatment facility, then what will the Alps Inn be in its next iteration? Already the owners have publicly stated that it is not viable as a bed and breakfast. According to Zillow, it first went on sale in 2014 (asking price: $6.2 million). More announcements followed: 2015 (asking price: $5.75 million), 2017 (asking price: $5.395 million), 2017 again (asking price: $4.995 million), 2019 (asking price: $4.469 million), 2022 (asking price: $4.469 million), and he is currently under contract/accepting backup offers. Sandstone Care – or any other contracted entity on the property – clearly sees a profitable business opportunity in establishing a mental health facility on this beautiful property. Now it’s up to county commissioners to make sure said company is also a good neighbor.

Rachel Walker,

About 30 miles east of New York is one of the most beautiful and scientifically iconic places in the world, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. I was lucky enough to take a few summer courses there on fruit fly neurobiology (yes, that’s a real thing) and learn from some of the best geneticists in the world.

But this beauty conceals a horrific past reality: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is also the site of the infamous Eugenics Record Office (ERO), which sought to use science and politics to “cleanse” the human race of racial, social and cultural inadequacies. mental. at the beginning of the middle of the 20th century. Germany’s demonstration of where these beliefs lead has fortunately ended ERO in that country. But some of his ideas persist in insidious ways, particularly in defining the “other” as something undesirable.

Eugenics attempted to suppress otherness by transforming it into something better, that is, “more like us”, even to the point of sterilizing other humans (or killing them, in the German model) who did not correspond to the desired model. The world generally condemns these things now, although sometimes I hear things on certain cable news channels that border on old-fashioned eugenics in its most abhorrent form.

Another way to try to overcome the discomfort of otherness is to physically eliminate the feared other (“out of sight, out of mind”). This is the animating intention behind social NIMBYism, and generally elicits less strong reactions. But he is almost as destructive in his own right, both to his followers and to his targets.

It would be easy to take a cheap shot of Boulder NIMBYism and cite this current canyon controversy as another example. That would also be a mistake. There is a more fundamental challenge that we must somehow overcome, which goes far beyond Boulder but is more painfully felt here. We feel like we are missing an essential element of kindness and empathy, a sense of gratitude for what we have here and a generosity of spirit to want to share it with others. More than that, even: we lack some basic awareness of the importance of variation in building a strong and authentic community. And that variation must include the full range of authentic human experience, not just a predetermined set of positive attributes.

Maybe we should just start by being honest about what we do and don’t support and, more importantly, why.

Fintan Steele,

The facility that is proposed to be constructed at the former Alps Boulder Inn by Sandstone Care would treat teens with mild to moderate mental health symptoms. And there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Boulder County needs access to a facility like this. I personally know parents whose child has struggled with mental health symptoms due to intense personal trauma. The child resorted to buying Xanax on the street, which, unbeknownst to him, was mixed with Fentanyl. The teenager was found dead, lying in bed listening to music. I now wonder if this facility would have given him the tools to deal with his trauma and avoid his death.

At the same time, let’s not forget that this company does not open this facility out of the goodness of its heart, but to seek profit. I think it is perfectly justified for the municipality to ask for certain guarantees (for the municipality or the neighbours) in order to grant a permit. For example, at the county hearing, a neighbor mentioned that at the mental institution where his wife works, “clients run away, run away, it’s pretty much a daily occurrence.” It is not excluded that in order to reduce costs and increase profits, the establishment may be understaffed and the active staff may not be able to manage runaways. After all, a teenager cannot be held against his will in the establishment, if he wishes to leave.

I think the county needs to keep communication open between themselves, neighbors and Sandstone Care. Everyone in the group has leverage: the company wants to build a facility to increase its profits, the county wants the facility and must provide the permits, and neighbors have influence through their vote and organization . I think this balance of power is good to ensure a solution that will benefit all parties. I hope the neighbors and the county are able to clearly define their public safety requirements and that the facility is able to allay those concerns. Also, I’m hoping that a review process is established so that if the facility is in violation of the original agreement, neighbors and the county are able to bring those issues to them quickly so they can be resolved effectively. Personally, I look forward to having a facility like this available to our children in the city of Boulder.

Hernan Villanueva,

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