Doña Ana County



A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Doña Ana County Crisis Triage Center today signals the beginning of a new direction for mental and substance abuse crisis care, in the community.

“Thanks primarily to the support and vision of current and past commissioners, along with extraordinary support from the City of Las Cruces and the community, this center will make it possible for people in crisis to get the appropriate care they need, immediately and in the longer term,” said Doña Ana County Manager Fernando R. Macias.

The center will be fully operational soon and currently houses 13 staff members, who are onboarding and receiving training.

The Center will provide services to people, referred to as guests experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis and will ensure engagement in recovery.  Staff will provide a comprehensive discharge plan to connect guests to local healthcare providers, resources or other agencies in the community, as needed. Services are designed to meet the best-practice standards set by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and align with the Nationally-recognized Crisis Now Model.

Dist. 5 Commissioner and Board of County Commissioners Chair Manuel Sanchez thanked community representatives who supported the center, over the past few years.  He said the center also prepares Doña Ana County for the upcoming 9-8-8 prevention hotline designation, a number that will be dedicated to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, effective July 16, 2022.  People in crisis in the proximity could be immediately referred to the center.

RI International’s Deputy CEO Paul Galdys introduced Karina P. Diaz, LPAT, ATR, IFS, the new Site Director for the center, and Jess Spohn, MPH, LCSW, LSAA, CHES, the new Clinical Director, who will oversee licensed behavioral health clinicians and peer support specialists.

Starting in March, Diaz has been hiring and training staff, ramping up the Center to begin operating in June.

 “I am thrilled to be a part of an organization that deeply believes in recovery and mobilizes peer supports to facilitate an environment and culture that can host guests who require additional supports in order to decrease and de-escalate a crisis,” Diaz said.  Originally from the El Paso, Ciudad Juarez area, she said she anticipated moving back home.  “I am excited to be part of a long-awaited effort to enhance the mental health coordination efforts for those in need, throughout Doña Ana County.”

Diaz, a licensed art psychotherapist moved from Brooklyn, New York, where she was Clinic Director at Bonding Links – Enlazos Familiares Behavioral Health Services for Children and Families.  In that role, she developed protocols and a process to successfully transition an outpatient, onsite clinic to telehealth remote services because of the pandemic in March, 2020. She led a pilot program stemming from the zero-suicide policy in New York, developing or enhancing expertise in suicide prevention and care. She also led an outreach initiative to Queens and Brooklyn underserved communities, achieving an all-time high number of youths of color and low-economic people helped, during the pandemic.

Diaz holds a Master’s Degree in Psychotherapy, using art as an alternative way of expression and healing and is registered nationally as both an Art Psychotherapist and an Infant/ Parent attachment specialist.

Spohn most recently worked as a therapist at Zia Recovery Center.  Prior to that, Spohn was the Clinical Supervisor and therapist at Mesilla Valley Hospital and worked with La Clínica de Familia ACT Team as Team Lead and therapist. At New Mexico State University, NMSU Spohn was a professor in the Social Work Department and Coordinator of LGBT+ Programs.

“It is important to me that we provide compassionate, professional, trauma-informed, and culturally-affirming care to our guests, based on their individual needs, especially in their time of crisis,” Spohn said.  “I am looking forward to expanding much-needed mental health services in our community, while building relationships with community partners and fostering a healthy workplace culture.”

Spohn holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from NMSU and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at El Paso, UTEP, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Substance Abuse Associate and is a Certified Health Education Specialist.

Licensed by the State of New Mexico, the Center will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“This center will receive anyone in crisis who needs help,” Macias said. “Every guest who comes in through these doors will be welcome, receive the proper immediate help they need and walk out with a care plan and referrals for their recovery.”

For more information about Doña Ana County, please visit

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