- Associated Press - Friday, August 22, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Louisville facility that treats drug addicts says it is planning a major expansion to meet a growing need due to the heroin epidemic.

The Courier-Journal (https://cjky.it/VHUQdM) reports The Healing Place, which offers the city’s only no-fee recovery program, was announcing on Friday plans to spend $20 million over two years to nearly double the size of its facility for men.

Plans call for increasing the number of detox beds from 24 to at least 50 and the long-term recovery beds from 250 to 426. The expansion is driven mostly by the heroin epidemic, according to officials.

Karyn Hascal, who is head of the nonprofit organization, told the newspaper that heroin addicts have “overwhelmed” the facility. She says they account for about 90 percent of clients in detox and up to 70 percent of those in recovery.

Hascal said the facility has done away with waiting lists because they grew too long.

“It’s been a nightmare to deal with,” said Patrick Fogarty, the Healing Place’s chief program officer, adding that turning away a client struggling with the “Russian roulette” of heroin means knowing that there’s a “good chance (they) might not make it.”

According to the state attorney general’s office, there is one-tenth of the treatment beds needed in Kentucky. The newspaper found that of the 301 treatment facilities, only 40 offer 24-hour residential care.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called the Healing Place expansion “critically needed in our community.”

The expansion is being paid for through grants and fundraising efforts.

Advocates say the additional space could mean less cost to taxpayers for EMS calls, emergency room detox visits and jail time.

“It’s going to help tremendously,” said Metro Corrections Chief Mark Bolton. He said the jail deals with between 30 and 90 inmates each day who are detoxing from heroin and most don’t have money or insurance, which means for them, “the Healing Place is really the only game in town.”

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com

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