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Monday, May 27, 2024

Hospital sale money to cover The Harbor upfit, county to purchase its $1.5M building

The former Sherwood Manor Rest Home will become home to the relaunch of The Harbor. (Port City Daily/File)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — More details are being revealed about the scheduled reopening of a detox center that helped uninsured and underinsured patients in the Cape Fear region for a decade before closing more than two years ago.

On Monday, New Hanover County Commissioners approved to buy the former Sherwood Manor Rest Home at 1605 Robin Hood Road for $1.49 million for The Harbor’s new home. The county will reallocate money from its general fund to the capital projects fund for the purchase. 

READ MORE: County asked to contribute $3.4M to The Harbor’s potential new location, a collaboration with LINC

After the sale closes, on or before March 1, county staff is expected to recommend commissioners approve covering over half of the site’s renovation costs. County spokesperson Alex Riley told Port City Daily the money will be pulled from the $350-million fund that was created from the $1.5 billion sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health almost two years ago.

Specifically, he said it will come from $50 million in the Mental & Behavioral Health Fund. No money has been accessed from that tranche yet.

The Harbor has been without a space and unable to provide services since October 2020, when it was kicked out of its leased property on the hospital’s campus. Officials failed to find another location before the lease was up.

The new 13,900-square-foot building is located less than a mile down the road and will be operated again by RHA Services in partnership with Trillium Health Resources. Local nonprofit Leading Into New Communities is also providing transitional housing onsite. 

Built in 1984, the Robin Hood Road building has 20 rooms. Plans for The Harbor include a 16-bed detox operation for Medicaid and uninsured patients that will offer services 24 hours a day. 

The county’s original agreement in September was to purchase the campus at no more than the asking price of $1.65 million. An appraisal revealed the property’s value is $1.49 million, and the owner accepted that offer amount from the county.

A building condition assessment indicated “significant renovations are necessary,” according to NHC Chief Financial Officer Eric Credle’s memo to the board.

In August, the three entities estimated the total cost to upgrade the building would be $3.4 million. According to a memo last year from RHA’s Behavioral Health Regional Director Charles Hill, Trillium dedicated $1.5 million to bring the property up to state standards. The groups asked the county to cover the remaining $1.9 million for LINC’s space needs. 

According to updated estimates, the renovation costs have doubled to $6.1-million. LINC has committed $900,000, and with Trillium’s million-plus contribution, county staff would be left to foot the remaining $3.7-million bill. 

A projection includes demolition costs between $68,000 and $136,000, along with mold remediation between $13,000 and $27,000. The estimate also references line items for roof repair or replacement, new flooring, window replacements, utility repairs, repairing and replacing wall systems and others. 

LINC’s founder Frankie Roberts declined an interview request with Port City Daily because the county’s building purchase has yet to be finalized. A spokesperson with RHA Health Services could not be reached by press.

Chief Operations Officer Cindy Ehlers told Port City Daily she’s seen a lot more people leave the area to access care due to the The Harbor shuttering. 

“For our members that are in our plan, we’ve had to send people further away from their area to get what they need,” Ehlers said. “So we’ve contracted with other providers to deliver the care that we really want to provide, you know, closer to people’s homes.”

LINC’s goal for The Harbor is to provide holistic care for two demographics — people transitioning out of prison and people with mental health or addiction disorders. Both groups experience overlapping issues. 

According to a memo obtained by Port City Daily last fall, The Harbor is also seeking a partnership with The Healing Place, a county-run drug and alcohol recovery facility set to open on Feb. 1. It will offer 200 beds to men and women seeking opioid addiction treatment. The facility has been criticized in recent months for its controversial operation plan excluding medication-assisted treatment, the “gold standard” among medical professionals. 

READ MORE: The Healing Place set to open Feb. 1

Ehlers did not have any specific details on the two facilities’ potential partnership.

“The providers that are in the substance abuse continuum or mental health continuum already all work together to support members,” Ehlers said. “I would hope that all providers will work together, either to make referrals when people need this level of medical detox, or to accept referrals when they’re ready to step down and continue treatment outside that setting. So, likewise, The Healing Place is just one additional added component to the program.”

No timeline has been provided yet for when The Harbor’s renovations will commence or when The Harbor projects it will open to patients.

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