Denver Health gets $1.7M infusion to help with youth in crisis.

By Analisa Romano 

Denver Business Journal

The grant will center on trauma-based services and substance abuse.

Denver Health CEO Donna Lynne hasn’t been shy about pinpointing where rising need in the city is stressing the health organization’s resources.

In addition to more unhoused people who use Denver Health as a safety net provider, Lynne has said physicians are seeing youth in need of behavioral health services at younger and younger ages. With needs still climbing, Lynne told the Denver Business Journal in September that she expects the organization’s cost of uncompensated care to rise to $135 million this year.

Denver Health has been piecing together a plan to get the funding it needs to continue offering services to patients regardless of insurance status.

On Thursday, another small infusion was announced to address where needs are rising most.

Caring for Denver will fund a $1.7 million grant to provide crisis response and substance use treatment for students at Denver Public Schools.

The grant will allow for a new team to work alongside DPS crisis response. The team, called TRUST (Therapeutic Response and Urgent Stabilization Team), will respond to traumatic events within 24 hours and help coordinate follow-up care, according to a news release. Three schools will also add an on-site therapist for substance use treatment.

Denver Health in June debuted what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind facility for adolescent detox, citing a rise in adolescents who encounter substance-related issues.

Denver Health’s emergency department sees more than 900 adolescents per year for a primary substance-related issue, said Christian Thurstone, director of Behavioral Health Services at Denver Health, in a previous interview.

The organization already has about 130 people working across locations at DPS, many of them in behavioral health. Denver Health’s outpatient adolescent substance help treatment program is located at eight school-based health centers and sees just under 1,000 families annually.

“We know that students who have been exposed to trauma, including gun violence, are at a higher risk for suicide and severe psychological distress,” Lynne said in a statement. “So, the sooner our crisis team reaches them, the sooner they can provide critical support.”

As the city’s largest provider of mental health and substance abuse care, Denver Health actually does more work in DPS and the community than its main campus, Lynne said in a previous interview. Out of 1.2 million visits per year, about 1 million are in locations that are in schools and clinics outside of the Denver campus.

The Denver City Council requested millions more in next year’s city budget go toward Denver Health initiatives, but Denver Mayor Mike Johnston has so far agreed to $3 million more for the organization.