Bernalillo County expands 'living room’ hours - Albuquerque Journal

Bernalillo County expands ‘living room’ hours

CHANCEY BUSH/JOURNAL Certified Peer Support Workers, from the left, Rosa Bias, Victoria Gurule and Azalea Echeverria-Alcala inside the Adán Carriaga Living Room at the CARE Campus in Southeast Albuquerque. The center, which can direct people to various behavioral health of addiction resources, is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Wednesday afternoon, a Harry Potter movie was on TV and a pot of coffee, computer with internet access and a Certified Peer Support Worker were also available.

The Adán Carriaga Living Room Center is now operating with extended hours — Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. It first-opened in September, but only for three days a week.

Called a “living room” to denote a less like a clinical setting, there are two peer support workers — who have completed some sort of addiction or behavioral health treatment — and a supervisor with the same credentials. They stagger shifts so there is always someone to provide “intensive case management,” said Azalea Echeverria-Alcala, the program supervisor.

They may help get the client services such as Medicaid, help him or her apply for a job, or sync the client up with an addiction or behavioral health program.

People who use the center can also get sandwiches and have access to showers, if needed.

“They can come in and just sit here and have a conversation with us. And we can de-escalate the situation,” said Victoria Gurule, a certified peer support worker at the living room. “This a place where they can come in and talk to one of us who have lived experience and they won’t be judged.”

The living room center is the latest addition to Bernalillo County’s CARE Campus, at 5901 Zuni SE, which offers several behavioral health services, including a crisis center formerly called the Metropolitan Addiction and Treatment Services center.

The living room is named after Adán Carriaga, a community leader in recovery who helped build up behavioral health and addiction resources in Bernalillo County.

“We have been working hard to transform the CARE Campus into a one-stop shop for anybody seeking behavioral health services,” County Manager Julie Morgas Baca said in a statement. “Thanks to community input and partner agencies, we are now able to offer a true out-patient service for individuals seeking peer-to-peer interactions. This is an exciting first step toward providing proper care and services for Bernalillo County residents seeking behavioral health treatment.”

The program has received $350,000 from the Behavioral Health Initiative Tax, which is a gross receipts tax voters approved in 2014. It’s also received money from a federal infrastructure law, said Reina Martinez, a community programs manager for Bernalillo County.

Gurule said about 15 people access the living room each day. Sometimes a person seeks out the center multiple times before making a decision to take more intensive resources, like a detox facility or substance abuse treatment.

“So if the client is ready to take those steps, they’re going to be encouraging them, they’re going to push them to do that,” Echeverria-Alcala said. “If a client seems a bit hesitant, we’re not going to force them into doing something that they’re not ready to do.”

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