A Sobering Solution
(09/13/2010)

When El Paso County’s Lighthouse Detoxification Facility was closed due to a funding shortage and staffing problems, hospitals started experiencing a major increase in patients needing detox services in their emergency rooms.

Sheriff Terry Maketa saw this dilemma and the same month proposed replacing it with a new standalone Community Detoxification Facility.

“The new detox facility would take that burden away from the county’s hospitals, where a hospital patient may only receive medical attention,” Maketa says. “At a detox facility they would receive so much more."

On Feb. 23, 2009, Sheriff Terry Maketa presented a proposal to the board of County Commissioners and the citizens of El Paso County for the Sheriff’s Office to build and operate El Paso County’s first Community Detoxification Facility through a collaborative partnership with the law enforcement, medical and nonprofit community. After receiving unanimous approval, construction quickly began on the $1.9 million project.

The construction contract and the new facility were paid for with funds generated from the following groups:

• Long-term housing contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) established in August of 2008

• The Colorado Division of Behavioral Health, with allocated funds for annual detoxification services

• Penrose-St. Francis Health Services

• Pikes Peak United Way

• Memorial Health System and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services will contribute $570,000 annually and will provide detoxification care, assessment treatment referrals and services

• Additionally $800,000 of state alcohol and drug abuse treatment money will pay for yearly operations

• Additionally, El Paso County’s Sheriff’s Office applied for and was awarded a two-year grant through JAG (Justice Assistance Grant) through the Bureau of Justice Recovery Grant program, which will partially pay for new positions at the facility

The facility is designed to help clients find more comprehensive help if they are ready to change their lives. The projected average stay for clients is between 12 to 72 hours, but a court appointed stay could be longer.

The interior includes an attorneys office for clients who need legal assistance, an assessment center, classrooms, beds and tables for dining. Clients either go to the detoxification facility on their own will, are dropped off by authorities, or are sent in by the courts.

 

Sprung Instant Structures

El Paso County selected Sprung as the product of choice due in part to the engineered clear span design of the structure, energy efficient insulation system and an accelerated construction time line that brought the facility online in five months.

Construction began on a 70-foot x 160-foot structure in June 2009. The 11,313-square-foot structure is a Phase I project, and a second 70-foot x 160-foot structure will be erected adjacent to the first building to expanded El Paso County’s Correctional systems.

The first facility includes a 9,652-square-foot ground floo with an assessment office, visiting rooms, a restroom and shower facilities, and housing areas for 40 male and female detox clients. Additional space for future expansion is available if necessary.

The 1,661-square-foot mezzanine level contains two multi-purpose rooms, a recreational area, an employee break room and the detox supervisor’s office. The facility can accommodate up to 140 people, but Sheriff Maketa says the plan is to keep the number of clients at 40, with at least two staff members per every 10 clients.

As a cost-saving measure, inmate labor was used to erect the structure under the supervision of El Paso County’s own Lieutenant Paul Billiard, the technical consultant provided by Sprung,  and the contractor, G.H. Phipps. More than 2,967 hours were contributed by the inmate crews and 844 hours of supervisor oversight, saving an estimated $118,798 in direct labor costs.

“We consider this the surprise of 2009,” Maketa says. “Going into this year we anticipated there would be no detox services for the county. We were able to fund the construction of the facility and are pleased to have the ability to double the capacity of bed space which directly impacts a valuable service to our community.”

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