Former Navy base to house recovery facility

SUGAR GROVE — The former US. Navy Base in Pendleton County has been leased by owners Mellivora Capital Partners to be used for a long-term recovery program facility for substance abuse patients.

The 95-bed treatment facility to be known as “The Highlands at Sugar Grove” is a partnership between Meridian Behavior Health Systems near Nashville, Tennessee and the Gersh Academy located in New York, according to an announcement this week. It is expected to create 200 jobs.

MBHS just completed purchasing Charleston-based Highland Hospital, Highland Health Center and Process Strategies in September. Highland Hospital is a 155-bed detox center that could provide several days of detox recovery, but had to release patients later to an outpatient recovery.

“Highland has an over 63-year history of providing mental health and addiction services to the state. … As Meridian CEO Wes Mason promised upon the acquisition of the Highland Companies in Charleston, Meridian plans to invest in West Virginia and help to meet the needs of West Virginians,” according to Cynthia Persily, CEO of Highland Hospital.

The new facility will provide an estimated 200 jobs ranging from clinicians to housekeeping, dieticians and groundskeepers.

Through the new partnership, “We are creating a residential program for adults with substance use disorder (SUD) to complement other addiction services currently offered across the state.”

The first phase of the program will focus on 3.5 buildings: the dormitory, which will house up to 95 patients; the activities building, where various therapy groups and activities will be held; and the welcome center to be used as an admissions and intake facility. Offices connected to the Fire Department will be used for therapists and staff, group and family therapy and other therapeutic activities.

Adults will transition from any detox program into the intensive 28-day program and then into individualized service in their home communities or in a future sober living community co-located with the residential program, Persily said.

Service provided will include psychiatric evaluations and treatment, family therapy, individual therapy, group therapy, 12-step programs and case management. Through partnerships with other local health care providers, medical care for minor acute or chronic illness and other services will be provided.

Social issues such as housing instability, domestic violence, legal problems and others will be managed by social workers and case managers in conjunction with community partners across the state.

Additional services such as employment training, financial management and parenting programs will be offered as the program matures, Persily explained.

“We will take advantage of the beautiful West Virginia setting to allow for healing through outdoor activities,” Persily added.

The facility is scheduled to open July 1, the same month that health care providers in West Virginia can begin billing Medicaid for 28 days at residential treatment facilities, Persily said.

Persily said the program will accept Medicaid. West Virginia currently had about 265 residential treatment beds for people with substance abuse problems, she added.

People who experience SUD for whom residential treatment is appropriate will be targeted for admission to this program. “We will specifically target West Virginians, however no patient who meets criteria for admission will be turned away if beds are available. All types of insurance will be accepted,” she said.

“To the people of Pendleton County — this is a reality and will be happening soon. … At Highland, our mission is to provide high quality behavioral health service in a caring environment. We can’t think of a better place to provide these residential drug treatment services than in the heart of West Virginia, where our future residents can heal their bodies and their souls,” Persily said.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., issued a statement on the announcement.

“For years we have worked at the local, state and federal levels to find a new mission for Sugar Grove,” Manchin said. “The Sugar Grove facility will serve an important purpose. By helping those struggling with substance use disorder, they can turn their lives around, bring their families back together and make their communities stronger. Not only that, but this will create an additional 200 jobs in Pendleton County.”