Sandoval Regional Medical Center receives $1.5M grant for substance abuse and mental health program

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SANDOVAL COUNTY, N.M. – UNM’s Sandoval Regional Medical Center received $1.5 million from Congress to jumpstart a new substance abuse and mental health program.

The grant studies the effects of using peer support over telehealth in rural communities.

“Not just Sandoval County, but other counties throughout the state,” said Jamie Silva-Steele, CEO & president of the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center. “Individuals will be more apt to be able to jump onto a computer or a cell phone for a visit with a peer or a medication treatment provider, then they would have to travel in for services.”

So, people who have recovered from substance abuse can now go through state training to become a coach for others.

“The goal is to hopefully reduce patient’s use of the emergency department,” said Silva-Steele. 

Freeing up much-needed hospital beds.

“And to provide motivational interviewing and other types of strategies to help keep people on a pathway towards recovery,” Silva-Steele said. 

Starting Monday, patients who go into SRMC’s Emergency Department will receive a questionnaire on substance use disorder.

“If they flag that they are a substance use person, then we will apply the peer support worker to that individual and to talk to them about treatment strategies,” explained Silva-Steele. 

If the patient decided they want to continue working with the peer, they can schedule future meetings and even medication treatment if necessary.

All meetings will be virtual, unless a patient needs to receive care at the hospital.

Hospital leaders also say the grant will only fund this program for one year.

“At the end of the 12 months, what we really want to demonstrate is that this model work,” Silva-Steele said. “Excited to see what’s going to happen moving forward and looking forward to being able to make a difference in patients’ lives.”