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Medina County's first residential drug treatment facility to open in July

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Robert Newman development director for Community Assessment and Treatment Services, leads a tour of the new CATS facility at the Wadsworth-Rittman Medical Center o Friday. It’s expected to be open in July. BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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WADSWORTH — Medina County’s first residential drug treatment facility will open this summer.

Community Assessment and Treatment Services, or CATS, is scheduled to open in July at the Summa Wadsworth-Rittman Medical Center, 195 Wadsworth Road.

Krista Wasowski, commissioner of the Medina County Health Department, said officials didn’t think the need was great enough to have a residential facility in the past. That changed, she said, with the increase in opiate use and arrests in recent years. Patients were previously sent to Cuyahoga or Lorain counties.

“It’s not a service you want your community to need, but unfortunately we do and I think our services here will help get people back on their feet and back to being sober, productive members of society,” Robert Newman, development director for the nonprofit CATS, said previously.

County officials are ecstatic with the news that construction is scheduled to be finished by June 30 at the 6,000-square-foot facility.

“We’re so excited to have residential treatment in Medina County,” Wasowski said.

The health commissioner said there are several outpatient facilities in Medina County, such as Alternative Paths, Bellfaire JCB and The LCADA Way. CATS signed a five-year lease agreement with the hospital. The hospital invested $500,000 in construction and renovation costs, said Molly Menton of Summa Health. There will be 16 beds in an open dorm style for a male population.

“We’re on schedule to be ready July 9 to start taking clients,” he said.

First, he said, CATS needs to get its Ohio Mental Health & Addiction Services certification, a requirement for all inpatient facilities.

Newman said a program manager and a counselor have been hired. Eventually, CATS will have 13 full-time workers and two or three part-timers. Interviews started last week. Newman said previously there will be licensed clinicians, professional counselors, social workers and chemical dependency specialists.

Once they are hired, the plan is for the workers to get 45-60 days of training at CATS in Cleveland.

Most of the patients will pay via Medicaid or self-pay and stay an average of 74 days. Newman said the facility will eventually accept private insurance.

In Cleveland, the patients are referred from the criminal justice system — probation and drug courts. The Cuyahoga County facility, 8411 Broadway Ave., has more than 200 beds and accepts female patients.

At the outset, all patients will come through intake at the Cleveland facility. Walk-ups will be welcomed in Wadsworth, along with referrals from family members and the police.

“The beds are not contracted from a particular agency,” Newman said.

There will be a physical therapy unit, a full-service kitchen, a common room, classrooms, offices, reception and showers.

Showers won’t be completely private for safety reasons, he said.

“There will be cameras throughout (the building),” Newman said. “Site lines are important. It will be a secure facility.”

He said if patients want to leave, no one is going to stop them.

“If they want to leave, they can leave,” Newman said. “We can’t force anyone to stay.”

He said CATS has already received a grant from the Medina County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board. There are future grants coming from the Medina County Drug Abuse Commission and the Medina Community Fund.

More than 16 beds are needed, he said, but it’s all they are allowed to have now because of a state regulation.

“That’s to keep people from warehousing the medically ill,” he said.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.

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