Heroin fight

Adding a third floor to a medical building near Fauquier Hospital could provide recovering addicts with the residential facility that both county and town of Warrenton officials say they recognize is needed.

Fauquier County was already partnering with the PATH Foundation and the Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services Board to fund a feasibility study to demolish and rebuild the behavioral health care center at 340 Hospital Dr., which provides outpatient substance abuse and mental health services.

Brian Duncan, executive director of the RRCSB, came to a work session on Jan. 11 of the county board of supervisors to discuss the results of that study. Supervisors asked Duncan if the scope of construction could be broadened to add space to accommodate short-term residential stays by recovering addicts.

It was a timely discussion.

Just two evenings before, Warrenton Town Council unanimously rejected a request for a special use permit from the McShin Foundation to expand its counseling services in the Rider building at 30 John Marshall St. to include a 28-day, 14-bed residential service.

Council members cited conflicts with the town’s zoning rules and comprehensive plan. County officials also questioned whether the central business district location was the best place for what McShin proposed. Fauquier County is finalizing its purchase of the Rider building.

Both town and county officials said they saw a need for the residential treatment service. The study about the Hospital Drive building presented a possible way to provide that service but in a different location than the one close to Old Town.

Duncan noted the county owns the property where the building sits and that a rezoning or variance isn’t needed. It’s also in a good location, though the site presents some challenges.

“It’s a tight site and strangely configured,” County Administrator Paul McCulla noted.

The building would be rebuilt with outpatient services for children and adults in mind. Duncan said it would look much like any medical office with reception and waiting areas, exam rooms and offices.

Supervisor Chris Butler, presiding at his first meeting as newly elected chairman of the board, asked about providing residential space for recovering addicts.

“This board is committed to helping those folks,” Butler said.

“There is nothing in this proposal. That would change the character and use of the building,” Duncan said. “Residential service was not put of the thinking … It would require a completely different kind of assessment.”

He noted that the RRCSB operates a residential facility in Culpeper, which serves recovering addicts from Fauquier as well. Duncan said it is typically 70 to 75 percent full.

It’s not a walk-in facility, Duncan explained. People go through a pre-qualification process, which he said is done in a couple days. Some are court-ordered patients. Others are brought in by law enforcement.

It is a licensed rehabilitation and detoxification center, Duncan said, drawing a distinction with the McShin Foundation’s service which he said is “peer operated and peer run. McShin’s is a different kind of service… Peer support is great, but it’s not something we’re seeking to expand.”

The RRCSB rather wants to expand outpatient service and medical assistance, Duncan said.

But supervisors pressed for an expanded study.

Center District Supervisor Chris Granger said, “If we’re going to make this investment [in a new building] can we add a third floor to lease out to a peer to peer group? I know it will add dollars but can we add 12 beds? I know we have a partner with the town of Warrenton.”

Duncan said he believed the study of the building could be expanded.

He added that who would be operating the third floor and how it will be funded are important questions that need to be answered, “so that we’re not left with a third floor that’s not used.”

The county administrator recommended the supervisors table a planned vote on the preparation of final construction plans until it’s determined whether the new building could be expanded.

The supervisors expect to get a preliminary answer by the time of their February meeting.

Reach James Ivancic at jivancic@fauquier.com.


(1) comment

John Shinholser

The most important thing for everyone involved to understand is recovery is the solution for substance use disorders and one of the best ways to accomplish recovery is through the authentic recovery community organizations.Virginia has been hood winked for 30 years in a row now by some politicians and bureaucrats that insist on bad policies and protocols surrounding solutions to our addiction epidemic that in reality has been made worse by these very people I speak of. So if every one is happy with business as usual stick with the same old antiquated systems,if you want 40% proven reduction in the impact addiction is having on our communities then invite the authentic recovery community to the table of "policy development" as well be prepared to treat and fund equally the authentic recovery support service providers.Its as simple as that !

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