GREENSBORO — Guilford County leaders are turning to state government for help in building a new behavioral health center for people dealing with mental issues.
The county Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Thursday evening “seeking the financial support of the state in the amount of $10 million to help fund the construction and establishment of an ambulatory behavioral health facility.”
The money would go toward a center for people battling such issues as substance abuse and psychiatric disorders.
The resolution noted that in the last fiscal year ending June 30, “more than $143 million in Medicaid, state and local funds were invested in providing behavioral health services to individuals in Guilford County.” More than 21,550 people needed this type of care in Guilford during that time, the commissioners said.
Plans call for the county to spend a total of about $20 million on the center that would be the heart of a “comprehensive line of services including crisis management and urgent care services for adults, adolescents and children.”
The center would offer a 16-bed crisis unit, outpatient facilities, pharmacy services and educational service areas. The county is working on the project in partnership with Cone Health and the Sandhills Center, which operates Guilford’s current mental health center on North Eugene Street.
County officials expect to pay part of the new building’s price tag with $5.5 million from the sale of the existing North Eugene center. They plan to use local bond money for remaining costs not covered by the proceeds of that sale and whatever financial help state government provides.
“Nothing is done until it’s done when it comes to state funding,” said Commissioner Jeff Phillips, who has been heavily involved in planning the project. “But based on what we’ve heard so far, we’re very optimistic about the General Assembly’s potential support.”
In fact, the initiative already has generated bipartisan interest in Raleigh, with both Democratic state Rep. Pricey Harrison of Greensboro and Republican state Rep. Jon Hardister of Whitsett saying Friday that they like the concept.
“This is a great project and I certainly will support it,” Hardister said. “Enhancing mental health services will be beneficial to our community.”
Legislators from Guilford were briefed on the project in a recent meeting of the county delegation, Harrison said.
“It sounds like a much-needed facility,” she said, noting that such a center could relieve pressures on hospital emergency rooms and jails not well equipped to deal with mental health crises.
In other action at Thursday’s meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to rezone a 2.4-acre property at the intersection of Old Julian and Alamance Church roads to allow a Dollar General store.
The proposal faced vigorous opposition from some neighbors who said it was not needed, would harm similar businesses already in the area and was planned on a lot that is prone to flooding.
But the commissioners sided with Concord businessman Daniel Armazon of Teramore Development, who said the company would operate the store as a franchisee. He pledged to design it in a way that is more visually appealing than the typical highway business.
Armazon’s lawyer, Mike Fox of Greensboro, told the board that state and local development rules would prevent Teramore from building in a way that creates flooding or other drainage problems for nearby property owners.
The commissioners approved the change in zoning with conditions that include working with neighbors to seek a mutually acceptable design.
The commissioners also:
- Heard a report from county Health Director Merle Green that Guilford faced a “robust” flu season this year that so far has taken two lives and affected people of all ages.
- Learned from Green that the county Health Department recently received a perfect score in a reaccreditation review by the state Local Health Department Accreditation Board.
- Received an update from Assistant County Health Director Ken Carter on recent testing of more than 40 residential wells in the airport area for potential PFOS/PFOA contamination. Nine wells had levels high enough to warrant retesting this spring, Carter said.
- Accepted grants of more than $267,000 from the Governor’s Crime Commission to help victims of domestic violence. The grants support four staff positions at Family Justice Centers in Greensboro and High Point.
- Approved a grant of $19,530 from Firehouse Subs to equip 15 Guilford Sheriff’s Office patrol cars with defibrillators to help victims of cardiac arrest.
- Acknowledged receipt of $20,000 from the N.C. Office of Emergency Medical Services to improve follow-up services for people who have suffered overdoses.