(From Winston-Salem Journal, Richard Craver, 12/11/22)

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services will convert a substance abuse treatment center in Butner into a 54-bed inpatient psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents. The conversion of the Blackley Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center is being conducted with UNC Health. The groups project opening the converted facility as early as July 1. They have signed a letter of intent and expect to finalize the agreement in January.

DHHS said that daily more than 250 people wait for behavioral health services in emergency departments, with 20% of them being children and adolescents. The groups said that many end up languishing in emergency rooms or other settings for days because North Carolina has historically lacked the inpatient capacity to meet the behavioral health needs of the community.

“This partnership allows us to move faster to stand-up services urgently needed today for children,” state Health Secretary Kody Kinsley said in a statement. “We will continue to invest and build out a continuum of community-based behavioral health care that prevents, treats and promotes lasting recovery.” Dr. Wesley Burks, UNC Health’ chief executive and dean of the UNC School of Medicine, said that pediatric and adolescent behavioral health “is the largest issue affecting the future health of our state.”

Adults seeking substance use disorder treatment will continue to have the option to receive services at the state’s remaining alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers, or from private providers in the area. At the time of conversion, all permanent employees at the Blackley facility will have an opportunity for continued employment with DHHS based on their skills and experience. Source