Services affected at Southwest Counseling Center after transition

Juan Gutierrez
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 9:57pm

Pharmacy services at Southwest Counseling Center were unavailable Tuesday due to new management not having the proper pharmacy licensing.

Patients were not dispensed medicine on-site as is normal procedure for some during their treatments.

"If I get it, I can survive out in the community like everybody else," said Brian Pettit, a patient at Southwest Counseling Center since 1985.

La Frontera, the Arizona company taking over 15 facilities statewide after an audit revealed possible evidence of fraud, cannot give out medicine due to not having a pharmacy license from New Mexico.

The company's CEO Dan Ranieri said the license did not carry over from Southwest Counseling Center and La Frontera would have to apply for the license.

"We filled that out today," Ranieri said.

The facility was able to write scripts but the prescriptions would have to be filled at another pharmacy.

According to New Mexico Human Services Department, La Frontera will be receiving an expedited application process and could have an inspector at the facility as soon as Thursday.

HSD Spokesperson Matt Kennicott said La Frontera would be allowed to continue dispensing medicine at the center beginning Wednesday due to an emergency provision.

Patients said what was standard procedure at Southwest Counseling Center is now increasingly difficult due to differences in patient files with a new company.

Appointments were scheduled on pen and paper while La Frontera brings in new equipment and software.

There were reports appointments were turned down Tuesday, but Ranieri said all appointments were scheduled and new software should be in place soon.

"We will still have to go through the process of training all the staff to make sure they know how to use the software appropriately and accurately," he said.

Ranieri said the center is close to being fully staffed by retaining 95 percent of employees.

He could not give specifics as to how many providers were carried over.

A former physician says two of the three providers prescribing medications have not signed on with La Frontera.

Former CEO of Southwest Counseling Roque Garcia said the center serves about 2000 patients and while not all of them require medications, he said his staff was already stretched thin.

"We should have been operating with four providers," Garcia said.

Ranieri said if they do need to make new hires they would look at hiring providers from Las Cruces.

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