Richmond County drug treatment facility for women in planning stage

By: By Gavin Stone - Staff Writer

ROCKINGHAM — The Samaritan Colony has petitioned the state of North Carolina to add 14 new beds to its 2018 plan to be used by Richmond County’s first inpatient drug treatment facility for women.

On Monday, Colony’s board of directors met to get cost estimates for building the new women’s facility on the 17 acres of land adjacent to the existing center, which is for men only.

The need for a women’s inpatient facility in the county or surrounding area has been talked about for a long time, according to Harold Pearson, a clinician with Samaritan Colony. The board first agreed to support a women’s facility in July, forming a committee that would work with Pearson and his wife, Constance, who is spearheading the project.

Harold Pearson said women in Richmond County who suffer from substance addiction end up in jail more often than not due to lack of access to the proper care.

“They get detoxed and go right back into the environment they came from,” he said.

The nearest women’s inpatient treatment facility is Path of Hope in Lexington, roughly an hour and a half north of Rockingham. Daymark Recovery Services in Rockingham is an outpatient treatment facility.

The petition was approved by the State Health Coordinating Council on Oct. 4 and is pending approval from Gov. Roy Cooper. The petition will reach his desk on Jan. 1, 2018 and will become effective once signed. The due date for submitting the certificate of need application for the new facility is May 15, 2018.

Harold Pearson was hesitant to give a timeline for completion of the facility when reached by phone Wednesday, but last Thursday at a discussion on the opioid crisis with Attorney General Josh Stein, he suggested the facility could be completed “maybe two years down the road.”

Constance Pearson said women who need inpatient care for drug addiction in the area don’t have any options that don’t require driving long distances or getting put on a waiting list.

“(They) lose interest or hope,” she said. “There’s usually a small window to get them in treatment.”

The new facility will operate under the Samaritan Colony’s Board of Directors for three years, when it will have the option to install its own board, according to Constance Pearson.

During last week’s meeting, Social Services Director Robby Hall said, “If we could have anything else in Richmond County, it would be a drug treatment program like the Samaritan Colony for women so we can address some of these issues. There is a very limited amount of treatment in Richmond County and all the surrounding counties but specialized treatment for women versus just general is something that’s very needed.”

Among those who expressed support for a women’s facility at the meeting were Health Director Tommy Jarrell, state Sen. Tom McInnis and Commissioner Don Bryant.

“(Samaritan Colony is) doing a great job but it can’t meet the needs of the entire community by themselves,” Jarrell said in an interview Tuesday.

“It’s all about some group or organization willing to put forward the effort to make this happen,” McInnis said in an interview. “You can’t just say we’re going to have a women’s shelter in Richmond without someone taking the lead role. Someone has to take that initial leap to get something going and then bring it forth.”

Richmond County has a higher opioid death rate than the state average, according to Jarrell. From 2012 to 2016, people died at a rate of 18.8 per 100,000 people in Richmond County, and at 12.2 per 100,000 statewide.

Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]

By Gavin Stone

Staff Writer