HARRINGTON, Del. - It was in early November that Connections Community Support Programs first opened up its doors in Harrington for a brand new Withdrawal Management Clinic. In the nearly two months since then, nearly 70 percent of the patients have been from Sussex County.
As of Wednesday, there have been 210 patients that have come through the clinic. Of that total, 144, or almost 70 percent, are from Sussex County. Meanwhile, 58 patients were from Kent County, and eight were from New Castle County.
"In southern Delaware there's a huge need," said Vice President of Health Operations Kristopher Starr. "And it's a largely underserved and vulnerable population. We're kind of the initial service to assess what's actually out there. And I think the need is great."
Connections includes two main operations, under one building in Harrington. The first is the Withdrawal Management Center, better known as the "Detox Center." That center serves up to 28 people at a time. Meanwhile, Connections also runs an intensive out-patient clinic, which can serve up to 30 people at a time.
Starr said that the aggregate total number of visitors is actually below projections so far, exacerbated by a "holiday lull." Starr said that in the last couple weeks though, the rate of visitors has increased. From Monday, Jan. 4 to Wednesday, Jan. 6, Starr said that there were 30 patients seeking help.
"I think it's an epidemic," he said. "And I think we're seeing the tip of the iceberg."
Of the total patients, Starr said that 90 percent were there for addiction to opiates, like heroin. Jeffrey Benson, from the Sussex County Action Prevention Coalition, said that he was not surprised by the high numbers out of Sussex County.
"Here in the Sussex County area," he said, "I think many people are surprised simply because this is more of a "suburbia" and the country. However the access is just as great."
Starr said that one of the more complicated issues they've run into, is that many of the patients are in poor medical health as well. He said high blood pressure and diabetes are both rampant in their communities.