Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 12, 2012

Opening soon: Long-awaited McDowell drug treatment clinic to take 24 clients

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH — Officials are eyeing a December opening date for a new drug treatment clinic in McDowell County.

Delegate Clif Moore, D-McDowell, who also serves as county manager for McDowell County, said the Suboxone treatment clinic will handle approximately 24 clients once it opens at the Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center in Welch.  

“We will hopefully see the clinic open by the beginning of December,” Moore said. “The clinic will only be able to take on 24 clients because that is the maximum the new doctors can take on.”

The clinic is being developed through cooperation between county leaders, Southern Highlands, and West Virginia University. A doctor from WVU will be teleconferencing with patients at the clinic to provide treatment services.

Moore said many people in the county are eager to see the treatment program begin and are hopeful addiction treatment services will expand in the area.

“We have been very excited for this service to the county,” he said. “Anticipation has not died down, but I think picked up the closer we get to the opening. We are also hoping to get one of the regional drug treatment facilities proposed by the governor into McDowell County as well. That would be a huge benefit for our area.”

 Judy Akers, director and chief executive officer of Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center, said the grant money provided through WVU has been essential in getting the Suboxone clinic up and running.

“There were delays due to the approval they needed to get for the funding and logistics to work out,” she said. “We are hoping to have it open in December. This treatment will include group therapy and WVU will supply a psychiatrist who can order the Suboxone for the clients. Suboxone helps people get off opiates, but unlike methadone it completely weans the person off in a year or so rather than making them dependent on it. These groups will be co-ed groups of men and women.”

Akers said many in McDowell County are eager for treatment.

“There is already a waiting list of people who want to participate in this clinic,” she said. “Once the person’s treatment is completed in about a year, they go off the Suboxone and no longer have to keep up with the group therapy. They can keep up with therapy on their own if they choose. When the person is off the Suboxone, it will then open up a space for another person in the clinic.”

Akers said Southern Highlands is also working to get another treatment facility off the ground in McDowell County.

“It is a 90-day residential treatment clinic for women,” she said. “They will be detoxed at a hospital or a crisis unit before they come. The issue has been getting land and getting the building constructed due to all of the floodplains in McDowell County. The builder now has the land and by spring, construction should start. Once it begins, construction should take four to five months. The state is contracting out the project, so we are very hopeful this will begin in the spring. It is something we have been wanting for a long time. This project has been three years in the making.”

Providing treatment options in McDowell County is an important service, Akers said.

“We have waited a long time on these projects,” she said. “Clif Moore has been so supportive of the behavioral health programs. He couldn’t be more supportive than he already is of these projects.”

— Contact Kate Coil at´┐Ż