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How will Vail Health’s commitment to $60 million over 10 years (announced on April 4, 2019) help transform the behavioral health system in the Eagle River Valley? 

Behavioral Health in our community is a large and complex problem. On April 4, 2019, Vail Health announced its commitment to $60 million in funding over the next ten years to transform behavioral health services in the Eagle River Valley. In partnership with Eagle County and other community groups, a new nonprofit collaborative is being created to build needed facilities, improve access to providers and lower barriers to accessing behavioral health care across the valley. Currently, the new nonprofit 501c3, called Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, is being formed and an executive director is being hired. The top priorities for the initiative include:
  • Cross-Functional Behavioral Health Facility (Crisis Stabilization Unit, Social Detox, Respite, 24/7 walk-in
  • Provider Access and Capacity
  • System Coordination and Transformation
  • Prevention and Education
  • Crisis Response and Transition Services
  • School-Based Services
  • Jail-Based Initiatives
  • Awareness & Education
What is the difference between behavioral health and mental health? 
Behavioral health encompasses mental health as well as substance use disorders. Behavioral health focuses not only on treating depression, anxiety or suicide ideation, it also aims to prevent or disrupt substance abuse or other addiction.

What is the immediate impact of this $60 million initiative? Will the community see the difference in how services are provided and accessed immediately?
Important work is already being done through many partners, including the placement of more school-based therapists, additional behavioral health providers, and bilingual resources. It’s going to take time to activate this new nonprofit and put the new dollars to work, but we’ll see direct impacts within 2019. 

How is Vail Health working with the community to make sure this initiative meets the needs of the Eagle River Valley?
Vail Health and Eagle County officials are working with organizations and service providers to agree on standards of practice and to make sure our efforts are meeting the needs of the community. Community leaders spent much of 2018 and early 2019 meeting with key stakeholders and groups including Eagle County Paramedic Services, Eagle County Schools, Eagle River Youth Coalition, Hope Center, Mind Springs, Mountain Family Health, SpeakUp ReachOut, University of Colorado’s Depression Center, and local police departments. This coalition asked Vail Health to create a new nonprofit organization to coordinate and lead this effort moving forward.

How will the $60 million be allocated to different services (i.e. how much is going to cover building costs, hiring more counselors, etc.?)
Details of the distribution of dollars are still being determined. Significant resources are being reserved for the development of an integrated, cross-functional facility to increase capacity, ensure 24/7 access, and create behavioral health bed space in our community. Additionally, we are working with the community to develop additional, specific initiatives including:
  • Launching an effort to make it easier for patients to see health care professionals and receive care
  • Making sure behavioral health care is available in Spanish to help ensure that all members of our community are able to access care
  • Working to streamline communications across organizations so patients receive coordinated care
  • Providing more opportunities for telehealth
  • More education, awareness, and prevention

How will this initiative change the services available and how they are accessed?
Our goal is to expand and build on the effective practices already working in the community and create stronger infrastructure and care capacity where it doesn’t yet exist. 

Where will the behavioral health facility be? When will it open? How soon will these services be available?
The location and timeline of the facility are yet to be determined. It will include a crisis stabilization unit for adults and adolescents, 24-hour/7-days-a-week walk-in services, social detox, and respite care.

Is Eagle County in the “suicide belt” and what does this mean?
In 2018, Eagle County had its highest rate of suicide ever, following a trend we’ve seen across our state. Eight out of ten states with the highest suicide rates in the U.S. are located in the rural mountain west, with Colorado among them. In these regions, barriers to behavioral health care, such as shortages of mental health care providers and long driving distances to medical centers, have to be addressed.

Rural communities throughout the country are facing an uptick in deaths by suicide. In a 2018 survey, more than half of rural Americans know someone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts or tried to commit suicide. In Eagle County and other communities like ours, this call to action is clear and urgent. We need to work together as a community to offer people care and to confront this crisis head-on. 

Is Vail Health planning to fundraise more money for this initiative? 
Yes. Beyond the $60 million, 10-year commitment from Vail Health, we are having meaningful conversations with individuals who are passionate about making an impact on behavioral health in our community, and we are also working with community partners throughout the valley to plan a community-driven fundraising campaign. There will be opportunities for everyone to contribute in some meaningful way to this important effort.  

Who should groups/non-profits contact if they want to be involved? 
Chris Lindley (Dir. of Public Health for Eagle County): 303-435-5120,
Doris Kirchner (Exec. Dir. of Special Projects for Vail Health): 970-477-5188,

If someone needs crisis health help right now, what should they do? 
Call 911 or the crisis hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255.