Early in 2016, Samaritan Health Services purchased property at the corner of Highways 34 and 20. Set to be the site of STAR, or Samaritan Treatment and Recovery, the program will serve Benton, Linn, and Lincoln counties. The building is 12,000 square feet and will be the first co-ed facility in the area, which is where the U.S. Substance and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that 25,000 people suffer from substance addiction.
According to their website, Samaritan’s goal is to ensure their patients are strong for a successful re-entry into the community. To accomplish this, Samaritan will be “partnering with local healthcare providers, public and private agencies, community organizations. and the 12-step community to help patients once they have completed treatment.”
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The 16-bed facility, which offers a kitchen and space for programs and individual therapy, will be open to anyone regardless of their type or lack of coverage, “to stay as long as they need to complete their treatment.” Focusing on the rehabilitation of drug and alcohol abuse sufferers, the program will also provide personalized treatment, as well as group counseling, family education, peer support, and case management.
Samaritan initially planned to break ground on the new facility in October of last year, but following budget cuts early last year and a bill passed by Oregon State Legislators last June, which increases taxation on state hospitals, Samaritan found themselves unable to fund the $4 million project. CEO of Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital and administrative overseer of the project, Marty Cahill, was joined by Samaritan Vice President Julie Manning, January 23 to ask the Benton County Board of Commissioners for a portion of the county’s recreational marijuana tax revenue.
Board Chair Xan Augerot was quoted in the meeting by Albany Democrat-Herald reporter Bennett Hall stating that the county has a limited fund of about $190,000 worth of tax receipts, the disbursement of which is still to be decided. The Oregon Department of Revenue outlines just 5 percent of the proceeding from the Marijuana Tax be allotted to the prevention, early intervention, and treatment services of drug and alcohol abuse. Regardless of the Board’s decision, Samaritan will have to seek funding elsewhere to reach their goal.
Samaritan estimates the demolition of the pre-existing structures, one formerly an international Teen Challenge headquarters and the other a Church of God, as well as the construction the new facility will take about nine months. The question is not if they will see this project to completion, but rather when they will have the funds to do so.
By Randee Justus