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Mental health center to open in Cortez after Integrated Insight’s abrupt closure

The staff at Sand Canyon Therapy in front of their new location. Top row, from left: case manager Cameron Schafer and intern Gabby Medina. Bottom row: counselor Annie Diaz and office manager Taylor Betts. (Annie Diaz/Courtesy photo)
The new therapy center was started by therapist Annie Diaz

After the abrupt closure of Integrated Insight Community Care in January, local therapist Annie Diaz has announced that she and her team from Integrated Insight are opening a mental health clinic in Cortez called Sand Canyon Therapy.

Diaz shared that when Integrated Insight, which is headquartered in Delta, announced that they were abruptly closing their doors, she and the rest of her staff were caught off-guard.

“They basically told us, ‘Well, you need to have your clients all discharged and recruit other agencies immediately,’” Diaz said.

According to the Colorado Sun, the closure came about because Integrated Insight’s insurer, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, ended its contract with the group on Jan. 18, citing “concerns about patient safety” and other allegations.

The founder, Joel Watts, allegedly had an “inappropriate romantic relationship” with one of the clinic’s clients, as well as providing drugs and alcohol to staff at the Delta branch of the clinic.

Diaz said that after she and her team found out about the closure from Rocky Mountain, Watts told them that he was stepping down and another president would take his place.

On Jan. 29, Watts informed them they would be closing for good.

While in the midst of reeling from the closure announcement on Jan. 29, Diaz said they also had to try to find a place for their clients to go with a deadline of Feb. 2 to discharge their patients to other agencies.

Diaz said she called other providers in the area in hopes that someone would absorb their clients and staff, but no one had the openings to take the staff and clients together.

There were concerns about where the clients would go. Diaz said they were serving around 70 clients each week at their practice before the closure.

“It was going well. I mean really, really well and we were all really happy to be able to provide so much for our clients,” Diaz said. “We built an amazing practice here.”

“It’s not good to end treatment like that when people are in the middle of therapy,” Diaz continued.

Their old office sat near High Desert Physical Therapy.

“It was just a beautiful space for our clients,” Diaz said.

Diaz shared that it was “shocking, confusing and scary” to tell clients about the closure, but their clients were understanding and supportive.

“People were amazing,” Diaz said. “It was shocking for clients, but when you’ve been through a lot in your life, it’s just another level of resiliency. I told them, ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but I am working to figure this out.’”

Gabby Medina, the clinic’s intern, said the closure set her back on fulfilling her required internship hours, requiring her to extend her internship.

“I was supposed to fulfill a certain amount of direct service hours and I won't be able to, so I just enrolled in kind of an extension course that allows me and gives me the grace and the space to continue,” Medina said.

Diaz worked for the county from 2017 to 2022 and worked at Integrated Insight from 2022-2024, offering trauma-focused play therapy, parent education and interactive therapy. Soon, she was given the opportunity to expand more therapy services into the community, instead of just offering therapy to child protection clients.

While trying to find a solution to their dilemma, Diaz said they were evicted from their building while she was out of the country, after the landlord had reportedly told her they wouldn’t evict or take any action while she was gone.

In her absence, the staff at the clinic and their families scrambled to get everything out before the three-day deadline was up.

Then, the frantic search for a new building began, as well as the plan to start their own clinic.

“What do we do? Where do we go?” Diaz asked. “There was a moment when our only option was to open our own.”

At the suggestion of a family member, Diaz reached out to Tammy Samora from the housing authority, who told Diaz about the old housing authority building, which had recently been remodeled.

Samora told Diaz that she had hoped to rent it to someone “who is committed to our committee and wants to do good.”

Samora said it would be available to the group starting on April 1.

“Things just kind of started falling into place,” Diaz said.

Until they moved into their building on April 1, the Sand Canyon Therapy group was able to use a room in Caulkins Commons and continue providing services to most of their clients.

Diaz shared that starting her own practice was never a dream of hers, but it was something she wanted to do for the community.

“It has been a huge learning curve, but people have really stepped up to help us,” Diaz said. “I think it’s good to highlight how devastating the situation was, but I also feel like it’s good to show that we were like, ‘Yeah, we’re not giving up and going elsewhere. Our community needs this support and we’re going to figure out how to provide it.’”

Taylor Betts, the office manager, said it was “really hard and sad” telling the clients that the door was closing, but she is eager for the new clinic to open its doors.

“It made me so excited that Annie wanted to try her own private practice because there’s a lot of people that need help. I think they touch their lives every day,” Betts said. “I want everybody to be able to feel safe, feel appreciated and feel like they’re being helped.”

Now, Diaz is hopeful that they will be able to open their doors next week, as well as keep their clients in the same time slots for appointments that they were in prior to Integrated Insight’s closure.

“We couldn’t do it without community support, the clients believing in us and trusting us and the housing authority offering their space free of charge,” Diaz said. “It’s a journey for sure, and my goal is to just really show up for the community.”

“Our old landlords Karla and Mike Demby helped me problem-solve while I was in Argentina and donated a bunch of stuff for the kids playroom,” Diaz added. “Housing authority, specifically Tammy Samora, remodeled their building and not only made our rent doable but offered us a temporary place to see clients so our clients wouldn’t go without care. And our families and friends, holy moly, helping us move out when I was out of the country and our landlords evicted us, offered to help pay our rent so that we could try and stay and have some time to figure it out and the clients who have been so patient and understanding as I’ve navigated the difficulties of insurance credentialing, starting a business … there was so much bad but also so much good and I can’t wait for what’s to come.”

Sand Canyon Therapy will offer trauma-focused play therapy, parent education, child protection-focused therapy, parent-child interactive therapy and more through Diaz and Sand Canyon Therapy’s intern, Medina. Diaz is fluent in Spanish, so Spanish-speaking services are also offered.

Diaz said her approach to counseling is to treat and support the whole person.

Case Manager Cameron Schafer said that all of their separate traits helped make the opening of Sand Canyon Therapy possible.

“We all have unique traits that are really what made this place possible with all our hard work and dedication to do this, as well as the help from our families and our friends. A lot of this wouldn’t be possible without all of our family members supporting us and giving us guidance and just people who do have some experience giving us those pointers. It's been really, really awesome,” Schafer said.

They are also re-implementing their weekly dinners, in which clients participating in therapy are served a home-cooked meal by Diaz and the staff.

“She (Annie) encourages me to cook food for folks. If folks are kind of experiencing some symptoms and things feel a little bit hard, it's just nice to nourish them in that way too,” Medina said.

Diaz shared they are working on building a partnership with Axis Health to make it easier on patients when they have to utilize both services and create smooth patient transfers.

“I really want to create something different for our community. I want to collaborate as much as possible with other organizations so that members of our community get the best possible support. If we’re not able to effectively help them then we will assist them in finding the best fit for them. I want to network and collaborate with other agencies so that we are consistently aware of what’s available and how to meet our clients needs the best we can,” Diaz said.

Betts also spoke of collaborating with the community.

“Our big hope and plan and dream is to be able to work with all the agencies within our community, to better help everybody,” Betts said.

“I want people who work for me to feel supported, to feel like they can give their clients the best of themselves without getting overwhelmed and burned out. I want them to feel supported by me to grow, and pursue their goals and passions,” Diaz said.