Pubdate: Thu, 16 Aug 2012
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph (WV)
Copyright: 2012 Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Author: Kate Coil


WELCH - Officials are hoping to have a drug treatment center up and
running in McDowell County sometime this fall.

Judy Akers, director chief executive office of Southern Highlands
Community Mental Health Center, said the organization is working with
West Virginia University to have the clinic set up sometime this fall.

"We are working with West Virginia University on setting up the clinic
and they are waiting on grant approval," Akers said. "They have
submitted an application. We wanted to start the first of September,
but we have to wait on grant approval. Right now we don't have a
projected date, but my hope is we will just have a couple weeks delay.
We have our staff ready and just need the approval from WVU to go
ahead. WVU will supply the doctor who is required for the clinic. I
don't anticipate a long delay. It is just a matter of them getting the
go ahead."

Akers said doctors will be able to talk with clients at the Suboxone
clinic in McDowell County through video chats and teleconferences,
similar to how Southern Highlands does counseling in their Mercer
County Clinics.

"It will be in our normal Southern Highlands Clinic in Welch," she
said. "The doctor will be there through MDTV, which is the new way
people are doing business. It is telemedicine which is a
teleconference set up. We already do it in Mercer County and it is
working extremely well."

According to Akers, transportation is a major issue facing many in
McDowell County who require health care services, like drug

"I know the biggest problem is transportation, so getting treatment
close to them and more available to them is will make treatment
available for more people," Akers said. "Our goal is to get more
people off of drugs. We all have to work together in order to make
this happen. The County Commission has been so supportive of this
project, and we are glad for their partnership."

Akers said having a local drug treatment facility may also help
address other issues in the county.

"One of the biggest problems any employer has is trying to get people
to pass the drug screening," she said. "For McDowell County to move
forward, they need a drug free workforce. This is a step in that right

McDowell County Commission President Gordon Lambert said having a
clinic is essential for McDowell County.

"We have so many people who need help," Lambert said. "There hasn't
been any center opened yet and now they are saying they are hoping to
be open by October and treat six patients. It is so important because
we have so many people who are on drugs and trying to get help, but
they have to go to Mercer County, to Tazewell, to Beckley and
Abingdon. It would help them so much if they didn't have such a burden
placed on them to get help. It would be easier for them if they didn't
have to find that transportation or provide all that travel."

According to Lambert, helping fight drug addiction will help the
county face many other issues such as the local economy and child welfare.

"A lot of people on drugs cannot get a job or can't hold a job,"
Lambert said. "It would really help the county if these people could
get off jobs and receive gainful employment. They would be able to be
productive citizens and functioning parents, get involved with their
kids and the school system. They could take care of the elderly
parents. This is a war on drugs and we have to win that war for
anything here to get any better."
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