Centra Health plans to move a substance-abuse treatment facility from its current home in Lynchburg to a new location in Amherst, but first is seeking to loosen a few restrictions in place at the new property.
Centra’s Pathways Treatment Center was founded in 1984 and has been based out of the campus of Virginia Baptist Hospital in Lynchburg. The facility treats adult patients with substance abuse and dependence disorders, according to a letter addressed to the Amherst Planning and Zoning Department.
With the new name of Pathways Recovery Lodge, the facility plans to relocate to the former Blackberry Ridge substance-abuse treatment center, an already existing structure on Earley Farm Road. That center moved to a new Old Forest Road location at the end of March. The planning commission held a public hearing last Thursday so community members could hear about and speak on several amendments Centra wishes to make to the facility.
The conditions for a center of this nature originally were put in place for Blackberry Ridge in 2010, when Dr. Chris von Elton requested the Board of Supervisors approve a substance-abuse treatment facility as a special exception to the agricultural residential district. Four conditions were included in the 2010 agreement, the first being: “no medical detoxification on the premises.”
Centra is requesting to replace that restriction with a condition that would allow for non-acute detoxification at Pathways Recovery Lodge. A non-acute patient was defined at the meeting as a patient who has mild symptoms, who is not bedridden, and who is medically stable.
Acute medical detoxification would occur in the hospital, according to the amended first condition.
The second condition, which reflects the placement of acutely ill patients, would remain as-is.
The third condition originally attached to the facility bans controlled substances to be kept or administered on the property. Centra requested the elimination of this clause, assuring board members that “all medications will be administered by qualified licensed professionals and stored under locked conditions as required by regulation.”
The final condition addresses staffing of the facility. Currently, the policy requires 24-hour staff with a minimum of one staff member per seven patients. Centra requested loosening that condition to require “adequate staffing to meet patient needs and regulatory standards.”
The only concern raised during the public hearing was by Sheryl Babcany, who said she lives about three houses down from where the facility would be operating.
“Are these people going to stay on that property?” Babcany asked. “We knew it was a rehab before, and didn’t really see too much going on, but now that Centra’s getting involved and it sounds like it’s going to be bigger, I’m just concerned that it doesn’t affect our way of life.”
The attending Centra team assured Babkiny that the facility comes with rules attached, and containment should not be a problem since the property includes a buffer space surrounding the facility.
In 2014, a zoning application was submitted for another substance abuse treatment center planned for the Seminole Shopping Center in Madison Heights. The Florida-based company that submitted that application eventually withdrew it with no explanation. That center would not have provided meals or lodging to patients, something that kept it from qualifying as a substance abuse facility at that time, according to county officials.
As for the Centra facility, the planning commission unanimously approved recommending Centra’s requested amendments with the exception of board member Michael Martineau, who abstained from the vote since he owns property next to the proposed facility.
The changes will not be formalized unless they gain approval from the Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to hear the request at an Aug. 18 meeting.
[“source – newsadvance.com”]