One of Two Delaware Detox Clinics to Close - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reported by Michael Lopardi

One of Two Delaware Detox Clinics to Close

Updated:
The Kent-Sussex Detoxification Center is expected to remain closed for several months as the state transfers control of the Ellendale facility over to a private company. (Photo: WBOC) The Kent-Sussex Detoxification Center is expected to remain closed for several months as the state transfers control of the Ellendale facility over to a private company. (Photo: WBOC)

ELLENDALE, Del. - One of just two state detoxification centers in Delaware will temporarily close beginning Friday as part of a cost saving measure that could force substance abuse patients to travel across the state for help.

The Kent-Sussex Detoxification Center is expected to remain closed for several months as the state transfers control of the Ellendale facility over to a private company, said Kevin Huckshorn, Director for Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

The facility has been open for about 35 years and helped thousands of substance abuse patients handle drug problems. The state's other facility in Kirkwood, Del., is also privatized. 

"I think in the long run, when this opens up again as a private, it will be much more efficient and able to service so many more people here that we couldn't," said facility director David Beling.

Beling said the last patient checked out of the 20-bed clinic on Wednesday. The director said the facility treats an average of 600 patients a year, mostly those with opiate or alcohol addictions. At Ellendale, nurses provided medical detoxification, assessment and then helped develop a recovery plan.

Huckshorn admitted that the decision to close happened within the past few weeks, mostly because of staffing concerns and operational costs. Bringing in a private company to run the clinic is likely to reduce the annual operating cost by about 20 percent. But the change was triggered by several early retirements and concerns about adequate staffing to provide round-the-clock coverage.

Huckshorn said the state's other facility in Kirkwood operates with a private company and that privitization is a growing trend for detox centers around the country. She said the state would provide transportation to the New Castle facility for patients who could not get there on their own.

Delaware is also working to find other state jobs for roughly 12 state workers at the Ellendale site. Huckshorn said the state would find them jobs in the substance abuse field.

The state is expected to start accepting bids from private companies by next month. Huckshorn said she hopes to reopen the facilty by October.

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