Funds approved for new mental health facility in Lenoir

Jul. 11, 2014 @ 08:30 AM

Lenoir will soon be home to a new, $1.1 million mental health facility for patients in mental health crises or who need to detoxify from drugs or alcohol.

In April, the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners voted to apply for $750,000 from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency for the facility’s construction at the current RHA Behavioral Health location, 2415 Morganton Blvd. SW.

The Smoky Mountain Center announced Thursday that the application had been accepted, and the Housing Finance Agency will award $620,000 to Caldwell County for construction costs. Local nonprofit Foothills Services Inc., which supports mental health services in Caldwell, McDowell and Alexander counties, will contribute $480,000 toward the cost. No county funds will be used. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

The new mental health crisis and detox facility will serve residents of Caldwell, Alexander and McDowell counties and when space is available also residents of other neighboring counties.

The facility will have 12 beds for adults 18 and older, accepting voluntary and involuntary commitments for periods from a few hours to a week. Its goal will be to stabilize patients and return them to the community with a comprehensive plan for more care.

The facility will save Caldwell County money both by diverting patients from the emergency room, where care is more expensive, and by freeing Caldwell County sheriff's deputies from the time it now takes to transport mental patients to far-away facitilies. Sheriff’s Capt. B.J. Fore told the county commissioners in April that deputies spent a total of more than 6,000 hours on 274 mental commitments in 2013.

The facility is expected to cost the Smoky Mountain Center about $1.8 million a year to operate.