Guest Column: Detox operator’s response
I am the executive director of the Dakota County Receiving Center, Inc./Crow Wing County Detox. In reference to an article in the June 14, 2011, Dispatch, I would like to respond to the statements made concerning the detox facility in Brainerd.
Approximately two years ago, we were notified by Crow Wing County that we may have to move from the facility we leased on the BRHSC campus in Brainerd, because of plans by the state of Minnesota to revamp the heating system which would cost nearly $1 million.
At this time, Crow Wing County owned the building we were in and they felt they would not want to expend that amount of taxpayer’s money. They advised us to contact the facilities manager at the state, which we did.
He met with us to discuss the situation and found that we were unable to pay for the upgrade if we were to buy the building. We were told that we would have to vacate the building in the future, (possibly a year later), but no date was set.
On Sept. 1, 2010, Crow Wing County signed the building back to the state. We were able to get two extensions from the state on the closing of the facility, until 2011. This was now to occur sometime in the summer or fall of 2011.
Since we first heard we may have to move, we took helpful suggestions from Sue Beck at Crow Wing County, Realtors in the area and anyone who knew of unoccupied buildings. We visited every one of these and found that none were appropriate for our type of program, as we needed to meet the stringent licensing rules set up by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. As a nonprofit organization, we don’t have the resources to remodel a building. The costs were prohibitive for us as we have supplied the detox services at less than our cost over the years.
Early in 2011, we met with Capt. Jerry Negen at the Crow Wing jail and discussed the possibility of using an unused pod there for the Detox. This was later vetoed as the Minnesota Department of Human Services licensing would be unacceptable; there would be too many waivers to meet all necessary codes.
After Beth Wilms came on board with the County, we met with her and discussed the situation, advising her that we understood our move-out time would be later in the year of 2011, but that we were continuing to look for another facility until we were notified to vacate the premises.
About the end of April, 2011, we heard, by rumor, that our closing time would be June 1, 2011. We contacted the state of Minnesota to verify this and immediately relayed the information to Crow Wing County. This was as much a surprise to us as it was to the county. The county then sent us a letter terminating our contract as of June 19, 2011. We understand the building is scheduled for demolition.
We did not wish to move out of Brainerd and did offer to supply services as much as we could by transporting the patients to Hastings to accommodate as many patients as possible. Our contract with Crow Wing County was re-instated to support this. If a site became available that would be appropriate for us, we would have been more than happy to use it.
We are sorry we had to leave Brainerd and lay off our experienced staff, but we hope that a good alternative facility will be able to service the area patients in the future.
LOUISE SKOGSTAD is executive director of the Dakota County Receiving Center/Crow Wing County Detox.