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Highland to expand residential detox program

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --  Highland Hospital plans will add 10 beds to Highland Health Center, its residential drug detoxification program, officials said Tuesday.

The West Virginia Health Care Authority has granted a certificate of need for the addition, which will cost the hospital $35,000.

The 8-10 day program, which offers medically supervised detoxification for drug and alcohol addicts, has six beds but needs more, Clinical Coordinator Deidre Doria said.

The program typically has a two-week waiting period and routinely turns away people, Doria said.

In February, 55 people who signed up for a referral did not get into the program, she said. In March, 46 people didn't get in, she said.

"We will remain full (after the 10 additional beds open)," Doria said. "We'll be able to fill those. There's more of a need than that."

The detox program is the only one still located in the former Boiarsky Memorial Hospital building in Kanawha City since the rest of Highland moved from there to an adjacent new building last summer, spokesman Jim Strawn said.  

The new beds will be in the former adult unit of the hospital.

Hospital officials will spend $20,000 adding new bathrooms, including renovating an old storage closet to make it into a bathroom. Another $5,000 will be spent "sprucing" up the area with new paint and floors, Strawn said.

The remaining $10,000 was spent on legal and consulting fees to obtain the certificate of need for the addition, he said.

Hospital officials hope to have the beds ready by Aug. 1., Strawn said.

Most of the program's clients are 20 to 35-year-old opiate addicts, Doria said.

"When we do get an alcoholic, then they are older," she said. "(But the opiate addictions are) mostly young people, absolutely. There's no question about that."

Patients come from all over the state for the program, she said. After detox, patients are "strongly encouraged" to go on to a 28-day or three month drug addiction recovery program, she said.

"I don't think people that aren't in this field realize what an issue substance abuse is for our state," Doria said. "(These) aren't bad people, (just) those who have been involved with drugs. It's really an issue for our state. It's sad."

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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