May 252013


Saturday, May 25, 2013

The state-operated Walter B. Jones Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center will be closed after June 30 if the N.C. Senate’s version of the 2013-14 state budget is enacted.

Section 12F.7 of the Senate budget proposal submitted Wednesday said that the Department of Health and Human Services shall not allow any new admissions or readmissions to the three state-operated alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers after June 30. It follows with a direction that the DHHS will permanently cease operations at Walter B. Jones and the other centers, Julian F. Keith in Black Mountain and R.J. Blackley in Butner, by no later than Sept. 30.

In its place, the legislature would appropriate $10 million in the budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year and $20 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year, the amount it considers as savings from closing the centers, and use the monies to contract with private licensed medical care organizations to provide community-based and residential alcohol and substance abuse treatment services, according to the budget proposal.

A spokesman for DHHS Ricky Diaz, said the department does not comment on pending legislation.

Attempts on Friday to reach local legislative representatives Sen. Don Davis, D-Snow Hill, and Rep. Susan Martin, R-Wilson, for comment were unsuccessful.

After the N.C. House passes its budget bill, the two budget bills must be reconciled. The General Assembly is expected to adopt a budget by the beginning of the state fiscal year July 1.

The Walter B Jones Center is an 80-bed, inpatient treatment facility designed to treat alcohol and drug dependent adults with co-occurring psychiatric disorders. The center serves residents from 38 counties in the eastern region. The center also provides treatment for pregnant and postpartum women and their infants as part of the Eastern Regional Women and Infants Project and has the only on-site “maternal unit” in any state facility in North Carolina.

All substance abuse counselors are either certified or licensed by the N.C. Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board.

The center offers undergraduate to post-doctoral level practicums and internships for students from several universities, including The Brody School of Medicine and other educational departments at East Carolina University. Several ECU physicians and allied health professionals also serve on staff there.

DHHS officials did not say whether those relationships would continue if the centers are privatized.

via The Daily Reflector.


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