Despite backlash, commissioners approve Trillium agreement for rehab center

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioners voted on Monday morning to move forward with the Healing Place rehab facility in Wilmington, but it didn’t come without backlash from members of the board.

“To me it seems like it’s been a bait and switch with Trillium,”says New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield. “Once we get what we want, now we can do what we want to do.”

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County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield expressed his frustration after a proposal was brought to the table to move forward with Trillium Health Resources and the healing place rehab facility. The issues arose months ago after Trillium announced in May they would not be using Coastal Horizons as their provider, which was stated in the original plans.

“To have us there from the beginning to see the process through of getting the special use permit issued, which I have no doubt was granted because Coastal was at the table,”says Coastal Horizons President & CEO Margaret Weller-Stargell. “Then to go in a different direction is disturbing.”

New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet said they felt with the change of plans on Trillium’s part, they needed confirmation from the board before signing the official agreement. The motion would ultimately pass on a 4-1 vote, with Barfield being the only commissioner to vote “ney”. He states that he didn’t receive enough information on the switch to vote in favor.

“All of a sudden in the last hour a different decision has been made,”says Barfield. “For me as one of the folks that votes to fund Trillium and other agencies in our community, I have not received a sufficient answer.”

He went onto say this is in no way a vote against the facility.That a rehab center like this is long overdue not only in New Hanover County, but Eastern North Carolina as a whole.

“I recognize the need to build a facility,”Barfield says. “You know my no vote was a no vote against the decision that was made not to utilize Coastal Horizons, not to not build a facility. It is something that is desperately needed, building a hundred bed facility for men and one for women is long overdue.”

New Hanover County officials say they are hoping for a ground breaking sometime this fall, but it will likely take between 12 and 18 months before the facility is able to open its doors to patients.