NBC12, KARINA BOLSTER
A bill signed into law on Tuesday by President Joe Biden will provide $1 million to Henrico County to help build a brand-new detox and recovery center.
The selection process for an architect to design the estimated $12 million facility in the county’s east end is currently happening. There is also a Request for Proposal (RFP) by the county seeking a provider to partner with for this public-private partnership.
Demolition is already underway of the county’s Glen Echo Building at the eastern government complex. The building that will replace it will also serve the needs of the county and a growing problem in the community.
“Here in Henrico County, we had close to 800 overdoses in 2021; 96 of them were fatal, and that’s just something we’re really looking to impact,” said Leslie Stephen, Program Manager at Henrico Area Mental Health & Development Services.
“There’s a gap in services for detox,” said Varina District Supervisor Tyrone Nelson. “We are treating about 2,000 detox situations a year in jail; it’s difficult.”
According to Henrico Police data, officers responded to a significant number of overdose calls in the past two years. However, this data does not include EMS responses to those calls.
The ongoing issue is why county leaders wanted to build the 24 hours, 20,000-square-foot detox and recovery center.
Now, help is coming from the federal level in the form of $1 million.
“It’s going to be about a $12-$13 million project but this $1 million gets us started, so we’re excited about that,” Nelson said.
Once complete, the facility could house up to 30 beds.
“Far too many people end up pipelined into jail instead of detox centers where they would get the support they need,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D – Henrico).
“People shouldn’t have to go to jail because they have an addiction,” Nelson added. “What we’re trying to do is put together a space where people can go; short-term stay, 4-7 days, to at least get the process started.”
However, health leaders are also focused on beyond the immediate help.
“It’s not just a detox center, it’s really linking a person to a full continuum of care,” Stephen said.
“The other thing the county thought about is ensuring it’s located on a bus line; it’s within walking distance of an existing outpatient facility,” Spanberger said.
The federal funding is part of Congress’s 2022 fiscal year appropriations package.
“We’ve been working on securing this funding for a little over a year now, so to actually see it secured, signed into law, and soon on its way to the county is an exciting reality,” Spanberger said.
The idea for the center came from the Henrico Recovery Roundtable, made up of county supervisors, local health leaders, law enforcement, and others to find ways of combating the addiction problem across the county.
Leaders hope to break ground on the facility in the next few months, with an opening date set for sometime in 2024.