NELSONVILLE — The Appalachian Recovery Project (ARP) will hold a public meeting to discuss the future of the former Nelsonville prison facility on Oct. 15 from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Inn at Hocking College in Nelsonville.
Representatives of ARP, local law enforcement, treatment providers and other project partners will be on hand to discuss future plans, answer questions and listen to ideas for the facility.
With the closure of the Hocking Correctional Facility in Nelsonville, a significant blow to the local economy and public services occurred. Seeing a need, Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions took the lead among 19 different organizations which came together to form ARP.
The coalition was created to realize a vision of repurposing the facility to offer a range of services to those struggling with substance abuse misuse. Services being considered include medically assisted treatment, crisis housing, inpatient and outpatient therapy and exposure to education and job skills to improve employment prospects for those in recovery. The services will be offered to women struggling with drug dependency while incarcerated for a misdemeanor or low-level felony or as a result of court-facilitated diversion for drug-related offenses. The decision was made to initially reserve the facility for women due to the demand for female bed space and the maternal and child health ramifications for this population.
In early 2017, the Ohio Department of Corrections (DRC) announced the Hocking Correctional Facility would close. Employees of the facility were given the choice to relocate to nearby facilities in the same pay range but the closure left a widespread void.
The coalition led by Ohio University submitted a proposal that envisioned a facility offering the full range of drug-related services to vulnerable individuals affected by the current drug crisis.
“It is crucial that we find ways to address the opioid crisis facing not just southeastern Ohio, but also the state and the nation,” Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said. “The opportunity to repurpose this facility will not only help in working toward that goal, but will do so in a way that minimizes the impact of the loss of the prison and better serves the needs of women in the area who need the treatment that can be offered there.”
From the beginning, ARP operated with four guiding principles in mind:
- Create a new model for offering wraparound services to individuals suffering from drug dependency
- Mitigate the economic impact on the region due to the closure of the Hocking Correctional Facility Closure
- Fund operations without increasing costs to local jurisdictions
- Construct the model so it complements and does not compete with local service providers and the Southeast Ohio Regional Jail
DRC has agreed to lease the facility to Hocking County for $1 per year, address larger capital needs for as much as $7 million over the next 10 years, and support jail start-up costs during the first few months of operations. Ohio University is in discussions for a $1.1 million grant to support recovery services. Hopewell Health Centers recently received a planning grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to support the broader vision. Hocking College is in the process of obtaining work force development grants to support the project. ARP has approached private foundations as well and expects good news soon.
Operations and services will be funded by a mix of sources including Medicaid, private insurance, grants and fees. Ohio University researchers will soon complete a feasibility study that will affirm the project’s viability.
With a lease for $1 per year, support from DRC for capital and jail startup costs and funding for services from a mix of government programs, grants and private contributions, and the active support of local providers, ARP believes it will achieve the vision of a new model of care to give new renewed hope to people affected by the drug crisis.
For more information about the public meeting, contact Rick Hodges at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about OAIPH visit https://www.ohiopopulationhealthalliance.com/
Information provided by Ohio University.