It has been a long road, but a much anticipated project is finally near completion.
The Crow Wing Detox Center and new jail are expected to open in July in Building 9 on the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center campus off Highway 18.
The eight-bed detoxification center is connected with the jail, which offers 80 beds for adults and 40 for juveniles. The county needed a detoxification center and the current jail is running out of room.
"The jail has minimal security and 65-70 percent of the inmates are in for alcohol related crimes," said Rod McCulley, jail administrator. "On average an inmate will stay (at the facility) six months to a year."
Some people use maps to find their way. Crow Wing County Board Chairman Terry Sluss said he'd need a lot of cheese to leave a trail to get around the maze-like Crow Wing Detox Center and new jail.
The facility is expected to open in July at the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center. -- Jennifer Stockinger
A work release program is available for adults, and 60 of the 80 beds will be set up for that. Juveniles will be under direct observation, and adults will be under a direct supervised treatment program.
The detoxification center is at the east end of Building No. 9. The jail facility is connected to the center, but the area is secure. The jail is divided by color with dark brown doors for the adults and light brown for juveniles. Many halls lead to different bunks, some more secure than others.
An area with windows all around is where the officers will stand watch. An exercise room will be available and juveniles have access to school classrooms.
McCulley plans to have 10 full-time positions in correctional staff and some supervisory positions. A minimum of two people will be on duty at all times. Some staff members who work at the downtown Brainerd county jail will move to the new jail, he said.
The county signed a contract with the Dakota County Receiving Center in Hastings for the detoxification center. Crow Wing will pay $260 a day and other counties will pay $270 a day to use the facility. Staff at the receiving center will manage the program.
Bob Melson, executive director of the receiving center, said it will play three major roles. When a patient comes to the center, staff will look at withdrawal symptoms, conduct an assessment on chemicals and make a referral to where the person needs to be.
"Chemical dependency is a strange disease," Melson said. "People believe that all they need to do is to quit drinking. It's not that easy for everyone."
Melson plans to hire seven full-time and some part-time workers, including licensed practical nurses and a detox technician. The staff in Hastings will help train.
Melson said police officers and emergency rooms may still come in contact with intoxicated people, but at least now there will be a place nearby to take them. At the center in Hastings, 70 percent of the patients have not been back. Most of them stay in detox for an average of two days.
The former detox center in Crow Wing County closed in 1980. The county then decided to use the detoxification services at Pine Manor in Nevis, which is a 75-mile trip from Brainerd. Transporting a person under the influence is not an easy job for law enforcement officers.
Officials have been continuously receiving calls to help find a place to sober intoxicated people. The trip to Nevis takes a lot of time away from the officer, said McCulley. "With the new detox center many (intoxicated persons) will end up there instead of in jail."
Emergency rooms have been experiencing the same problems. Hospitals can only hold a person under the influence with a medical condition, such as one having seizures.
"It is frustrating when we can't take them (a detoxicated person)," said Dr. Nick Bernier, director of medical affairs at St. Joseph's Medical Center. "We try to find a place for them."
In 1993, the hospital treated 200 alcoholics. Though numbers are no longer tracked, Bernier said the number of people the hospital treats for alcoholism has remained steady.
The Crow Wing County Social Services Department assessed 639 chemical dependency cases last year. From January to May of this year, it has treated 310 cases. Linda Auger, social services supervisor, said she projects 700 cases by the end of the year.
"The new detox center will be a definite advantage to everyone," she said. "It will help us to intervene more quickly."
The St. Joseph's Foundation plans to buy furnishings for the center and the hospital association has agreed to pay $100,000 of the cost for the first year.
The 2000 budget's general fund is estimated at $2.2 million and includes the jail and detox center. This money includes inmate clothing, food, equipment repair and maintenance, boarding prisoners and training. The new facility will raise the tax levy from $399,000 to $908,000 from 1999 to 2000. Construction cost was $3.7 million.
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