Rowan County United Way Secures $1.5MM Grant to Open New Behavioral Health Urgent Care

The Rowan County United Way is nearly finished with a passion project of theirs. Since 2019, the RCUW has been steadfast in establishing a behavioral health urgent care for those in who require treatment for substance abuse or if they are mentally struggling. According to the President and CEO of Daymark Recovery Services Billy West, a behavioral health urgent care is “an outpatient clinic that never closes. So, think of it as your local urgent care in town except what if it didn’t close.”  Having a facility that caters to this market and is always open will be a huge gain for Rowan County because it will offer people the right kind of treatment. 

“The thing we were missing was that 24-hour urgent care component,” West said. “It left no room at the end for people in crisis after five o’clock and let’s face it, people either suffered in silence or they went to the emergency room. I’m glad they went somewhere, but often the emergency room is not the place for people that have a behavioral health or substance abuse crisis,” West said.  Similar clinics already exist in Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Mecklenburg and Forsyth counties, but one in Rowan County has slowly become a necessity. RCUW Executive Director Jenny Lee specified this will not be a methadone clinic. “We don’t have detox in Rowan County. We’re sending them outside the county all the time or they are ending up in our emergency department or the jails. It’s not safe and healthy for them to detox and to start working on their path to living a life of recovery,” Lee said.

RCUW initially put aside $100,000 as a jumping off point, but COVID delayed its intentions. Even when the world shut down, there were still overdoses, instances of domestic violence and suicides occurring all over the state and the nation. After life returned to relative normalcy, the RCUW partnered with Rowan County Commissioner Judy Klusman to set everything in motion, but they were admittedly out of their depth with this kind of undertaking. That’s when they brought Novant Health, Rowan County Department of Social Services, Rowan County Public Health Department, and Vaya Health into the fold to get a Rowan County BHUC off the ground.  For the past three years, Lee said they have had meetings with county commissioners and Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander to go over details of the facility and to discover new sources of funding. 

“Rowan County is so special because we actually do work together in this community,” Lee said. Vaya Health were the ones who suggested they dispatch a request of information to service providers to find out who would be the best collaborator for the urgent care. Daymark ended up being the ones who stood out the most and were chosen to be a part of the planning process. Ultimately, a BHUC was preferred over a facility based crisis center because data shows an BHUC could serve 2,500-3,500 people a year and an FBC could do just 800-900.

As it turns out, Daymark had unused space at its Salisbury location on Statesville Boulevard to house the BHUC, but funding was still an obstacle. Rowan County commissioners and state legislators have committed funds with additional details to follow at a later date.

Vaya Health wrote a $1.5 million grant on behalf of the RCUW that they ended up securing and Lee described herself as “overwhelmed” when they were awarded it. Carrol Fisher Construction Company is to commence building in the next few weeks and it is expected to last about a year. “We wanted robust, wraparound services because we know when someone’s facing mental health disorders or substance use, it doesn’t go away because you went to the Rowan County BHUC, it’s a lifelong process. You need intervention, you need therapy, you need med management and all these different things,” Lee said.

Lee said that the BHUC will be able to provide jobs and save the health care sector thousands of dollars a year. In terms of how people can pay for treatment, the BHUC will accept private insurance as well as Medicare and Medicaid. While this BHUC is a step in the right direction, Lee knows this is only the beginning. “I’m not going to sit here and say this is going to be the No. 1, end-all be-all solution for our substance use and mental health issues in Rowan County, but it definitely is a great starting place,” Lee said.

Author: Brian Dountz
Source: Salisbury Post
Original Article Title: Light at the end of the tunnel: new behavioral health urgent care has been years in the making