Plumas County A&D Services alive and well

Laura Beaton
Staff Writer

What ever happened to Plumas County’s Alcohol and Drug (A&D) Program? Since its curtailment in October 2008, a lot has been going on behind the scenes to get it back up and running.

What the public should know, according to Mimi Hall, Public Health director and county A&D program administrator, is that drug and alcohol services are available in Plumas County.

For assistance, call 283-6337. After a short screening and determination of health insurance coverage or lack of coverage, a referral will be made for appropriate services.

When the A&D program closed its doors nearly four years ago, it had an outstanding audit exception of $140,000.

That meant when the county accepted about $500,000 for the Negotiated Net Agreement with California Department of A&D Programs, it was already in the hole.

Hall appealed to the state for access to the records to rectify the audit exception. It took six solid weeks of forensic accounting for Hall and her staff to pour over the books, uncover the discrepancies and correct the $140,000 exception.

The state gave the go-ahead to launch the new program. But Hall said not so fast.

She agreed to take on the monumental task of reopening the A&D program, but knew it was no use trying to utilize the old program’s protocols: They had proven to be dysfunctional.

That involved learning many unfamiliar aspects of the program, as her staff had never run an A&D program before. They had to familiarize themselves with numerous state and federal regulations, new software programs, and myriad other details related to running countywide A&D services.

That in turn necessitated a barrage of trainings before they could rewrite policies and procedures from scratch for the new program.

Hall believes a holistic approach will best serve the needs of county residents.

Many social service agencies overlap treatments, so it makes sense to develop a more inclusive and broader program to better serve the county’s unique rural population.

Accordingly, Hall launched a strategic planning process across the broad continuum of publicly funded service sectors.

She invited more than 50 professional and community members to join the process of developing a “continuum of services strategic plan” for Plumas County’s alcohol, tobacco and other drug program.

Contributors sit on one of three subcommittees: prevention, treatment and recovery; collaborative criminal justice; or advisory committees.

Because the need and demand for services outweigh the available resources, the subcommittees recognized a need for a concentrated focus on families with young children.

The draft report of the strategic plan says: “The intergenerational breakdown of the family and parental role failure resulting from substance use and abuse ranked as the single most important priority.” The report further states impacts from the family cycle of addiction and substance abuse appear to be a root problem that costs and taxes the system the most; from “child welfare and other social services, economy and workforce, education, probation, law enforcement, the courts, jail, the healthcare system and the community at large.”

The far-reaching strategic plan encompasses widespread county and out-of-county resources and services.

Once Hall felt the strategic plan was adequate, she asked the state to review it.

The state agreed, and the review team identified problem areas that Hall’s team corrected with the state’s help.

When Obama’s healthcare reform plan goes into effect January 2014, Plumas County’s Public Health Department and the A&D program want to be poised for as seamless a transition as possible.

Hall believes it is prudent to align the county’s A&D plan, as well as other healthcare and social service plans, with the new measures that will be implemented in 2014. She and her collaborators have endeavored to do just that.

The report will be presented in September for the Board of Supervisors’ approval.

Stay tuned for future updates on the Plumas County Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Program Continuum of Services Strategic Plan.


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