As part of a shared commitment to behavioral health and the well-being of children and families, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and UNC Health will partner to convert the R.J. Blackley Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center in Butner, N.C., into a 54-bed inpatient psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents.
Each day in North Carolina, well over 250 people are waiting for behavioral health services in emergency departments. That includes more than 50 children and adolescents. Many end up languishing in emergency rooms or other settings for days because North Carolina has historically lacked the inpatient capacity to meet the behavioral health needs of the community.
“Too many children in North Carolina get stuck in emergency departments when they urgently need short-term and high-quality psychiatric care,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “This partnership allows us to move faster to stand-up services urgently needed today for children. We will continue to invest and build out a continuum of community-based behavioral health care that prevents, treats, and promotes lasting recovery.”
UNC Health and NCDHHS aim to open this new facility as early as July 1, 2023, providing relief to families seeking specialized, inpatient behavioral health treatment for their loved ones. NCDHHS and UNC Health have signed a letter of intent for this partnership and expect to finalize the agreement in January.
“Pediatric and adolescent behavioral health is the largest issue affecting the future health of our state,” said Dr. Wesley Burks, UNC Health CEO and dean of the UNC School of Medicine. “This partnership with NCDHHS is one piece of a solution for this critical issue and will have a positive impact on individuals and families for years to come.”
Adults seeking substance use disorder treatment will continue to have the option to receive services at one of the state’s two other Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Centers, Julian F. Keith ADATC or Walter B. Jones ADATC, or from private providers in the area. At the time of conversion, all permanent employees at R.J. Blackley ADATC will have an opportunity for continued employment with NCDHHS based on their skills and experience.
The partnership between two state agencies, NCDHHS and UNC Health, will expand much-needed services for children and adolescents, optimize use of other NCDHHS facilities for individuals seeking substance use disorder services and offset critical vacancies at the department.