The expansion and reopening of a local behavioral health care facility with a regional focus was celebrated Friday.
Synergy Recovery at the Shirley B. Randleman Center in North Wilkesboro will serve adults throughout western North Carolina, but focus on residents of Wilkes, Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga and Avery counties.
It’s been closed for about a year for renovations and expansion in a $1.7 million project. The facility, on Peace Street, is known locally as the detox center.
Synergy Recovery leases the building from Wilkes County government and provides detox services and now expanded behavioral health care there under a contract with Asheville-based Vaya Health, which manages Medicaid and other public funds for behavioral health care in Wilkes and 21 other western North Carolina counties.
Vaya is supporting the center through non-recurring community reinvestment funds and Medicaid and non-Medicaid funding for Synergy’s ongoing operations.
The facility was renamed for Shirley Randleman of Wilkesboro, who successfully advocated for $1.4 million from the legislature for Vaya Health to help fund construction while she was a state senator.
“The expanded center represents a long-term investment in the future of Wilkes County and all of northwestern North Carolina,” said Randleman at the event Friday.
“Residents of our region deserve quality behavioral health treatment options that are close to home. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished by working together and enthusiastic about the benefits for our region for years to come.”
Randleman became acutely aware of behavioral health care needs in Wilkes and northwestern N.C. while serving for many years as Wilkes County clerk of Superior Court.
The first floor of the two-story building was expanded by 1,647 square feet and now is occupied by a facility-based crisis center providing secure, residential stays for people experiencing mental health and substance use disorders, as well as people in need of non-hospital detox. Services include peer support, stabilization, treatment and crisis planning with the goal of alleviating acute crisis situations.
It now has two additional beds for a total of 16, a dedicated intake room, two new restrooms and shower area accessible to people with disabilities, family waiting room and green space accessible to people receiving crisis unit services.
Synergy Clinical Director Carl Spake said the application process has been started for securing accreditation from the Council on Accreditation (COA) for the facility to accept people involuntarily committed for psychiatric care.
Spake said the accreditation process will take at least a year. COA is an international, independent, nonprofit organization that accredits human and social service providers.
He said he plans to organize a subcommittee with representation of Wilkes Medical Center, local law enforcement agencies and other entities to work on meeting requirements for accreditation and how to best meet needs of people who are involuntarily committed.
Officials have said one goal of the Randleman Center is to be an alternative to taking people with involuntary commitment orders to Wilkes Medical Center, where they sometimes must remain for days while accompanied awaiting placement in an appropriate facility. Local law enforcement must be with them at the hospital.
Spake said the renovated facility has a modernized, welcoming environment that communicates respect for individuals served. “The Randleman Center is a place where people can feel comfortable and supported as they take the next step in their journey toward recovery.”
Vaya CEO Brian Ingraham said it “will be a place of healing for all people — for our family members, friends and neighbors. I’m honored to be part of a true community effort to strengthen behavioral health services and supports available in western North Carolina.”
The steering committee guiding the center expansion included representatives from Vaya, Synergy, Daymark Recovery Services, Project Lazarus, Wilkes Medical Center, the Wilkes County commissioners and the county’s administrative, social services, sheriff’s and health departments.
County Commissioner Keith Elmore served on the committee and commented on the persistence that helped make the current resource a reality.
County Manager John Yates said the Randleman Center is here today thanks to years of work by a broad coalition of county agencies and community organizations.