Sanctuary faces possible payless payday & risks closing doors - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Sanctuary faces possible payless payday & risks closing doors

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The island's oldest non-profit organization is faced with the possibility of a payless payday or worse.  Sanctuary needs to be paid from the government or risks closing its doors.

The region's only certified organization providing drug and alcohol services to adolescents, Sanctuary is faced with several challenges. "We are digging into all of our resources, the very last of our resources that we're able to try to make it for payroll," explained executive director Millie Lujan. She says Sanctuary has been working on an emergency certificate since last fiscal year providing services for the Guam Behavioral Health Center. 

The initial contract in Fiscal Year 2012 was for $320,000 and last fiscal year with no contract in place, Sanctuary continued to provide the services and was getting paid regularly. That is until August, when the payments stopped as the Guam Behavioral Health Center questioned the increased costs. "The funding level is insufficient for us to continue providing the same level of care to the clients," Lujan said.

"We are not able to continue operating at that $320,000 rate to provide adequate services to the clients that we serve," she said.

Sanctuary clinical director Valerie Reyes says in the last year and a half, the organization has seen even more clients with referrals not just from the GBHWC but the Juvenile Drug Court, DYA, schools and even walk-in's.  Every client undergoes an assessment and is given a treatment plan.

"Our numbers have jumped for every client we have we do the screening tool and that helps us place them in the most appropriate group setting," Reyes said, adding., "Required in that is documentation and having charts and files that have it documented for every session they've attended, the types of intervention used, so their treatment plans will always reflect on what's going on with the client within the level of care that they're in."

While they have scrounged up enough money to make tomorrow's payroll, they've fallen behind on utilities, food costs and paying vendors.  Lujan says continued lack of payment could be the breaking point. "The possibility of closing down and not being able to provide these services because we can no longer foot the bill for the government," she said.

"If they continue to not pay us, we may be forced to close our doors.  And we may be forced to transition these clients over to Guam Behavioral Health, which we know are not able to," she said.

KUAM News spoke with Guam Behavioral Health Center director Rey Vega, who says he is working to address the non-payment issue but says he cannot continue to pay above the $320,000 appropriation for the services.  Vega says he is trying to work on a temporary solution with sanctuary to initiate an immediate payment of some of the current fiscal year billings, while working to determine if the department overpaid for services last fiscal year.

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