Central Peninsula Hospital receives detox center grant

The central Kenai Peninsula will get its first detox center with a kickstart from a state grant.

Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna will get $500,000 from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to fund a detox facility with six to eight beds for the Kenai and Soldotna area. The award will provide startup and initial operational costs, according to a news release.

The announcement also included awards to projects in Fairbanks and Palmer, both for substance abuse treatment centers. The Tanana Chiefs Conference will receive $500,000 for a 12-bed sobering center in Fairbanks, and Set Free Alaska Inc. will get $250,000 for a 16-bed residential substance abuse facility for women, pregnant women and women with children in the Mat-Su Valley region.

“The awards fund programs not previously provided within the communities,” the release states.

The grants are part of an initiative undertaken by Gov. Bill Walker’s administration to battle the opioid epidemic plaguing Alaska. Walker referenced a commitment to funding resources to combat opioid addiction in his State of the State speech, delivered Jan. 18 to members of the Legislature. The initiative includes five steps: limiting the amount of opioids a doctor can prescribe, with some exceptions, strengthening the prescription monitoring program, giving regulatory authority to classify illicit opioids as controlled substances as they emerge, increasing screening and enforcement to block heroin and other opioids from moving into rural communities, and requiring licensed health care providers to complete opioid addiction education.

In Soldotna, Central Peninsula Hospital applied for the grant in conjunction with Peninsula Community Health Services, which plans to partner to provide behavioral health services. The grant applicants from Serenity House, Central Peninsula Hospital’s current drug treatment program, envision it being located close to the hospital’s campus in downtown Soldotna, as previously reported by the Clarion.

The funds were granted effective Friday and will last through June 30, said DHSS Public Information Officer Sarana Schell in an email. The grants are intended to last over three years, with another $4.75 million disbursed over the next two years to CPH and to the grantees in Fairbanks and Palmer.

The future of the funds are unclear, though, with heavy cuts to the state budget proposed in Walker’s budget for fiscal year 2018. Bruce Richards, director of external and marketing for Central Peninsula Hospital, said it is unclear whether the funds will be available in the future.

The applicants will have to reapply at the end of the year for the additional funding, Schell wrote.

“Regulations authorize the department to issue awards for one fiscal year at a time, therefore we ask our grantees to submit a continuation application to update thier project each fiscal year,” she wrote.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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