Medical facilities fight proposed drug treatment facility


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Back in February, Wilmington City Council approved a special use permit for a drug abuse treatment center, which has been in the works for more than four years. Now two medical facilities have filed an appeal, asking for an injunction.

The multi-million dollar facility will have 100 beds for those seeking treatment for addiction. It will be known as the Healing Place, modeled after Healing Transitions in Raleigh.

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“When you look in the obituary section in our newspaper, people are dying every day from overdoses,” said New Hanover County Commission Chair Jonathan Barfield.

Lower Cape Fear Hospice and Delaney Radiology are against the treatment facility being built near their facilities.

In litigation filed by attorneys, they say the only other group home facility in North Carolina operated by Trillium has had 172 arrests due to crimes committed by people who live at and use the facility.

“No one’s going to be committed there, or having to go there by court order. These are folks that want to go and get the help that they need because they really want help to indeed better their lives,” Barfield argued in favor of the facility.

Barfield says New Hanover County desperately needs this facility in order to fight the opioid epidemic. He says the location was chosen due to its proximity to the hospital, employment centers, public transportation, and places to eat.

In a previous interview with WWAY, hospice said their location was also chosen for a specific reason.

“The noise and the light pollution is one of the bigs things that we are concerned about, because this is very peaceful. It was the purpose of creating this here to be able to have this type of environment,” said Hospice CEO Gwen Whitley.

Barfield says by right the county can go in and put a treatment facility, but they needed that special use permit in order to provide overnight accommodations.

“We feel very confident that we will prevail in superior court, when this thing goes to the next level,” said Barfield.

We reached out to Lower Cape Fear Hospice, who cannot comment, and referred us to their attorney. We left a message with the attorney, but have not heard back.

Though not a petitioner in the appeal, The Children’s Learning Center of Wilmington has also expressed concerns. It is also near the property in question, and claims more than half of parents who use the daycare would remove their children if the treatment center was built.

A condition of City Council’s approval of the center back in February was that one licensed security guard would be on site of the center during all hours of operation.