Wilmington’s only state-funded crisis and detox facility to close in October

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Harbor, RHA Behavioral Health’s Facility-Based Crisis and Detoxification Center in Wilmington, will not be accepting admissions or referrals after October 23.

The Harbor is the only state-funded facility-based center in the area, helping those without insurance seek help.

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“There are a lot of people that don’t have access to insurance so having that here in Wilmington, a place where we have such a huge recovery community, is essential,” Wilmington resident Cheryl Walters said.

Cheryl Walters has experienced addiction, loss and recovery first hand.

After losing all three brothers to heroine overdoses, Walters continues to fight her own battle with alcoholism.

She’s seen what The Harbor can do for people. During her time at Christian Recovery Houses, she had the opportunity to visit The Harbor and speak, where she met a young woman.

“I met a young lady who I thought did not want to live. I was new to sobriety myself and I was just trying to share some hope,” Walters said. “Just recently, this young lady got a year sober and bought a car and she’s very involved in the recovery community. That is the one touching story I think of when I think of The Harbor closing. What’s the next lady like her gonna do?”

Wilmington’s Quick Response Team, which helps overdose survivors seek treatment, released a statement.

“With The Harbor closing, that creates a clear gap in services for those needing mental health or substance use treatment. It will be challenging without the level of care that The Harbor provides. The Quick Response Team utilizes The Harbor regularly to assist with stabilization after someone has overdosed. If someone we are working with needs detox, we will be looking outside our community to connect to treatment or leaning on the hospital for assistance. Of course, we are concerned that the closing of The Harbor will create more of a burden on our hospital emergency system. I think it will take a collaborative effort with our community partners to be able to provide this level of care to those in need of intensive mental health and substance use treatment.”

The Harbor is closing because New Hanover Regional Medical Center bought the property where the facility is located.

The hospital granted The Harbor extensions to find another location, but The Harbor says uncertainty in funding has made leasing a new property difficult.

“NHRMC has been very gracious in allowing us time to find alternative space to continue to provide this much-needed service. Unfortunately, uncertainty in both State and Medicaid funding has made making a long-term commitment to leasing property difficult,” a statement from RHA Health Services reads. “It is RHA’s desire to continue to provide facility-based crisis and detoxification services to Wilmington, New Hanover County, and the surrounding community, however, the lack of viable facility options leaves RHA with no choice but to close The Harbor.”

Julien March, Media Relations Coordinator for New Hanover Regional Medical Center, says NHRMC had hoped the service could relocate and still hopes it can be replaced in the future.

As for the concern of overloading the hospital, March says they intend to continue to work with the community to provide care.

“Our Emergency Department and Behavioral Health units will care for all patients who need their services and are continually evaluating how to prepare for different circumstances,” March wrote. “We remain hopeful the community will be able to replace the services offered by The Harbor. Until then, we will work with community partners to link patients to appropriate care.”

The Harbor is scheduled to be demolished sometime after October 23.

March says the property was purchased to add clinical services, but will serve as additional parking in the short-term.