State funding cuts shut down South Plains detox center

Published: Aug. 31, 2012 at 9:23 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 2:01 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Managed Care Center's detox program officially shuts down Friday, as state funds do not fully cover costs. The only state-run facility in the area, it served 41 counties from the Panhandle to the South Plains.

Those who can't afford to enroll in a private detox facility are now expected to flood local emergency rooms.

"Withdrawal from alcohol can be fatal. A person can go into seizure and cardiac arrest and they can die," said Gary Richardson, Managed Care Center Director for the Chemical Dependency Program.

Many drug addicts seek out medical treatment through these detox centers, but not everyone can afford it. Many people who have gone through the program and fought their addiction successfully are upset about the closure.

"Pretty much everything that changes the way I feel, I've struggled with," said Caleb Purtell who went through the detox program.

"It saved my life really," said Abilene resident Stephanie Sparks.

Caleb said the detox program gave him a new beginning.

"The difference between then and today is that I'm developing the tools to live a life of clean and sober," Caleb said.

Stephanie came to Lubbock from Abilene for the detox program.

Some are worried the impact the closure will have on local emergency rooms, since professional medical supervision is required for those getting off drugs…

"Alcohol and drug addiction is not just a mental thing it's a physical complication and so it does medical supervision to withdrawal from those drugs," said Richardson.

"It's hard to work up the courage to go there and if that resource is gone," said Sparks.

Well, unless things change, that resource is now gone.

In 2008, the Texas State Health Department of Health Services agreed to reimburse the detox program $150 a day per person. However, each person cost the facility $200 a day, which meant the program lost $50 a day per person under treatment.

"Due to some of the economic problems we have today we have more expenditures than we have revenue," said Richardson.

"We've cut our budget we've cut our expenditures we've cut as much as we can."

Therefore, it is simply not feasible to keep a program running they cannot pay for.

The detox program served up to 600 patients annually with a medical doctor on site. A doctor on location was able to prescribe medication which would help fight withdrawals, in addition to other complications drugs can bring to the table.

"Some of the problems they have had from their use such as IV drug users they can have abscesses you know which can lead to infection. they can have serious problems from that like losing an arm or leg they can die from that, too," said Richardson.

Richardson advises those wanting to change their lives - to do it in a safe manner.

"I want people to understand that you know because we're losing this detox program that they shouldn't try to detox on their own at home that they should seek medical attention for that and yeah that might mean going to the emergency room."

A women's residential treatment program will now be implemented in the space the detox program was under. However, a doctor will not be on site and there will be no assistance for those who need medication or other assistance that detox provides. Richardson said those people will most likely be directed to a local emergency room.

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