The sprawling building that once held the Lovelace hospital off of Gibson is turning into a health hub. The vision of the city, who purchased the property in 2021, is to create “a central location providing health services to the community of Southeast Albuquerque, filling gaps in care for our housed and unhoused community,” according to the city.
The Gibson Health Hub will have several organizations within the building to aid behavioral health and a shelter that will help transition in to housing. The health hub will also include a sobering center.
Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Melanie Stansbury secured $4.2 million in federal money to help fund the sobering center. Half of the funds would help with operations, the other half will help with construction.
For low-acuity intoxicated people, the sobering center would redirect patients from emergency rooms or jail to a place where they would be medically monitored until they reach sobriety.
” A 2021 study by the city describes: “A medical model, short-term monitoring facility with physician oversight, certified peer support and staffed onsite 24/7 with registered nurses and emergency medical technicians, who triage and monitor intoxicated individuals that arrive by emergency medical services until sobriety is achieved, minimum average three to four hours.”
The maximum someone could stay at the center is 24 hours.
According to that same study, the Albuquerque Fire Dept. responded to 43,094 substance-related intoxication and overdose incidents between 2018-2020. The study concluded that the city needed to open a sobering center to address intoxication, but also addiction and homelessness.
The 10,400-square-foot sobering center will include 33 beds, six private beds and 27 open beds, 16 recliners and nine restrooms.
According to the 2021 study, phase one will include 30 beds, phase two would include 45 beds and phase three would include 60 beds.
“This sobering center will literally save lives,” Stansbury said. After touring the center, she recounted an experience with addiction in her family. “They [the relative] had been sober for many years, and unfortunately, was picked up and put into a local county detention center and died of their addiction in a jail cell,” she said.
Stansbury said that if the relative had received medical care instead of going to jail, they would have survived.
Heinrich, who once served as the city councilor for southeastern Albuquerque, said, “I think what we saw here is an opportunity to coordinate those things. And then that frees up resources for everybody to do the job that they’re best trained to do, instead of expecting everyone to be everything for everyone.”