Youth Drug Abuse Concerns HPCHC


The High Plains Community Health Center in Lamar is exploring options to deal with the prevalence of youthful drug offenders in the local community. CEO Eric Niemeyer and Jim Farmer, chairman of the HPCHC’s board of directors, provided an update of current activities for the Prowers County Commissioners Monday, March 21st.

Niemeyer recapped efforts to join with Prowers Medical Center and Southeast Mental Health for grant applications to finance activities. Monthly meetings among all three medical providers have been scheduled to address the unmet need for youth in-patient detox services or behavioral health services.  “The board expressed a desire to look at recent statistics and see if we can get together for a joint project and maybe building something,” Niemeyer told the commissioners, asking for their input on the program.  Commissioner Wendy Buxton-Andrade cautioned that RESEDA in Las Animas provides detox services, but youth and adolescents are served differently and local efforts should be aware of duplication of services.

Jim Farmer said the Center’s clinicians brought to the board’s attention, the need for a program to deal with local youth who are doing injectable drugs. “These are being seen at the Center and the hospital and they’re dealing with serious wound issues,” he explained.  Farmer stated that a recent visit with Representative Ken Buck’s office in Washington referenced  pending legislation to help reduce rural drug issues, which has become more prevalent over the past several years.  He added, “This has become such a priority for us that the board has decided to put funds for the pediatrics center on hold so we can have funds if we need to do something quickly.  We need a multi-pronged attack and one of the first ways to do something is to bolster the availability of our local Crimestoppers program.”  He added this gives a way for people to contact legal authorities as a means of nipping any further drug expansion in the bud.

Farmer stated, “We need to find a way to work with our youth to help them understand that people are preying on them. We need to get our hands around this.”  According to Buck’s office, rural drug use is a very large issue and they’re putting money to it.  It’s growing because of our access to major highways and transit lines as one of the reasons why it’s happening.”

Niemeyer added that some federal funding is available for medicines that curtail the craving for heroin-like drugs and Medicaid could pay for the treatment program. The CEO said that’s one aspect of treatment that’s being discussed at High Plains Community Health Center.  Those patients would need to be qualified to become Medicaid eligible.  He said he would be in touch with Crystal Cook who directed the monthly meetings of the local drug enforcement group which was organized in Lamar about two years ago for a list of participants.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarCountyFeaturedHealthPublic SafetyYouth


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