Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 27, 2013

Task force still pushing for southern West Virginia detox clinic

By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH — A state task force on substance abuse is still recommending the development of a new detoxification and stabilization unit for southern West Virginia.

The facility would be in addition to a new 10-bed women’s treatment facility being developed for McDowell County in conjunction with Southern Highlands, according to Kimberly Walsh, deputy commissioner for the Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities at the Department of Health and Human Resources.

The task force formed last year by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin released its policy and program recommendations last week for the state Legislature to consider.

Walsh said a decision is still pending on what county in the state’s Region 6 area will house the proposed detoxification unit. Applications for the projects are due Jan. 31. Region 6 includes McDowell, Wyoming, Mercer, Raleigh, Monroe, Summers, Fayette and Nicholas counties.

“We do not know where that will be right now,” Walsh said. “It is currently being applied for as part of the funding announcement that is closing in on the 31st. It would be somewhere in the Region 6 area. We should know something soon. We are still moving along, and hopefully we will have even more news in the coming months. And we appreciate the support from the folks in the communities who participate in the task force. It’s wonderful to see the camaraderie and persistence.”

Delegate Clif Moore, D-McDowell, and members of the McDowell County Commission, have asked the state to locate the Region 6 detox center in Welch. Walsh said Moore has played an instrumental role in bringing the women’s treatment center to McDowell County.

While not a direct component of the task force recommendations, Walsh said the 10-bed women’s treatment unit planned for McDowell County is a significant development.

“We are excited about that program, and it should be a good program,” Walsh said. “But I don’t know if you can say it is a part of the governor’s council because that was being talked about when I came in, and I came in four years ago. We just opened a 16-bed women and children’s center in Beckley. That just opened in the last year. But in addition to that we are developing the 10-bed women’s center to meet that need, and we are certainly keeping our eyes on that as we move forward.”

The task force has made a wide range of recommendations, including a continuation of drug take-back events, issuing public assistance by electronic card instead of check to reduce the flow of paper money, and raising state alcohol and tobacco taxes with the new revenue being put toward prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery services, the Associated Press reported last week.

Earlier this year, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse and six regional task forces recommended funding local, regional and statewide service programs as part of a comprehensive plan to address drug abuse in West Virginia. Lawmakers are expected to act upon those proposals during the upcoming legislative session.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com