GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — For more than two decades, Guilford County leaders have talked about ways to help people battling substance abuse in our area.

Now the talk is turning into action. County commissioners have plans to purchase an old nursing home and turn it into a drug rehab center.

The sale of the property on Lees Chapel Road in Greensboro should go through by the end of this month.

Guilford County Commissioners’ Chairman Skip Alston said everything on the outside and inside is in pretty good shape. He’s hoping to get the facility open as soon as possible because of how many people are in need of this resource.

“We had over 200 deaths in Guilford County last year because of drug overdoses,” Alston said. “People don’t have a place to go.”

Alston believes the vacant building at 1411 Lees Chapel Rd. will be that place. The county is set to use $3.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to purchase the former St. Gale’s Manor.

“Anyone that has a problem with substance abuse and substance misuse would be able to go to this facility in order to get help,” Alston said.

The help is urgently needed. Last week, commissioners heard the county’s 2022 health report, which found synthetic opioid poisonings increased from 18 in 2014 to 113 in 2020. The number of opiate poisoning deaths increased from 42 to 136 in the same timeframe.

“We have the opportunity to give them something that they’ve been asking for for years that would help them get back to the productive citizens that they want to become,” Alston said.

The chairman said the facility would have between 50 and 72 beds and offer long-term care. The county has a short-term care facility for patients, but Alston said it’s not enough.

“It takes longer than 28 days in order to get them back to normal, and this is the way that we are trying to help our citizens break that habit,” he said.

Other organizations are also working to fight substance abuse. The Kellin Foundation is turning the old Lindley Park Baptist Church into a prevention and treatment hub.

The foundation’s executive director Dr. Kelly Graves said the building passed zoning. She’s now putting out bids for construction and hopes crews will start work this fall. Graves expects the facility to be open by the summer of 2024.

Alston knows these facilities will only make a dent in fighting drug addiction.

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“We need more than that,” he said. “Our citizens need more help and more options that they can go to besides the medical urgent cares and the emergency rooms when they have overdoses.”

Alston hopes to have the drug rehab center up and running by the end of this year.

He said county and opioid settlement funds would help pay for the cost of operations. The county plans to contract out the services.