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August 20, 2019

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County vote likely wards off closure of Las Vegas detox clinic

WestCare Tour

Steve Marcus

Patients rest in a dorm in WestCare’s Community Triage Center, a substance abuse and mental health clinic in downtown Las Vegas, Thursday, May 3, 2018.

WestCare Tour

A view of a dorm room during a tour of WestCare Thursday, May 3, 2018. Launch slideshow »

The area’s lone detox treatment facility of its kind is a step closer to averting closure at the end of the month after a favorable Clark County Commission vote Tuesday, committing its share of the funding.

WestCare’s Community Triage Center would be funded at least through the end of the year with an equal-share, “interlocal agreement” among local governments, hospitals and the state, if the other partners follow the county's 6 to 1 vote, which was "huge," said Dan Musgrove, a consultant with the nonprofit group.

For now, the county's decision — along with verbal agreements from Henderson and North Las Vegas governments, as well as a commitment from local hospitals and matching dollars available from the state — likely averts the May 31 closure of the substance abuse and mental health clinic, 323 N. Maryland Parkway, when the nonprofit's bank credit line was said to dry up.

It also will likely restore the relationship between the nonprofit and the bank, "ensuring that we can go forward with our needs," WestCare spokesman Bob Vickrey said.

The county commissioners also instructed staff to immediately draft a request for proposal to try to attract to the valley additional providers that could offer similar mental health and drug addiction services, a move Vickrey says the nonprofit welcomes.

WestCare’s facility, which serves the indigent and was founded in 2002 in an effort to alleviate overcrowding at emergency rooms and city jails, is the only state-certified such clinic in the state, but Assistant County Manager Kevin Schiller said two other providers were in the process of applying for certification and two others were considering entering the system.

Henderson and North Las Vegas have verbally agreed to their respective 3 and 8 percent shares, WestCare representatives said, while Clark County directed staff to work with the city of Las Vegas, which has been hesitant to fund further because of still-unanswered questions, to come up with a solution regarding its 36 percent share.

Local hospitals earlier this month committed their $508,265 share for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and have been open to future funding, which would be contingent on the other partners giving their share, said Musgrove, the WestCare consultant.

The third leg to the stool, Nevada, has matching funds available, officials have said.

WestCare's facility was long funded by the agreement, but it wasn't renewed in mid-2016, causing the nonprofit to self-fund and amass a deficit.

The meeting on Tuesday was contentious at times, and Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick grilled the nonprofit's representatives about what services it provides and to whom, saying that the funding disagreement was more about people's lives than the money.

Part of the disagreement is outlined in an audit conducted by Clark County and released earlier this year, which showed WestCare owed its partners about $1 million from Medicaid compensation after the federal program began funding programs for the mentally ill under the Affordable Care Act two and a half years ago.

Medicaid dollars last year amounted to about half of the facility's budget, and nonprofit officials are hoping that share increases in the future — they now staff someone with capabilities to help patients sign up for the aid five days a week (up from two).

For now, WestCare representatives seem to be breathing a sigh of relief. "We're going to continue to serve clients and we're going to be able to do the good work," Vickrey said.