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Dave Olson, Published September 29 2010

Clay County increases detox fee

The Clay County Commission on Tuesday increased the daily fee the county charges for detox center services from $275 to $320.

Officials said the fee level has not changed in more than 10 years.

While the change could mean about $17,000 a year in additional revenue, officials said it is unlikely to significantly help the county’s efforts to make the detox center more cost effective.

Clay County spends nearly $600,000 a year to run the center, which employs a staff of about 20 part-time and full-time employees and serves an average of fewer than five people a day.

The county recently reduced the center’s licensed capacity from 16 beds to 10 beds, a move intended to save costs while acknowledging a drop in facility use; billable days have dropped from 2,460 in 2005 to 1,800 this year.

The center’s potential revenue based on billable days is $495,000, but for 2010 it expects to collect about 17 percent of that amount, or $85,000.

Earlier this year, the county asked outside service providers to submit proposals on how they might take over management of the detox center.

One tentative response was received, and commissioners said Tuesday that for now the county will continue to operate the center.

Kathy McKay, Clay County’s public health administrator, said county officials hope state law can be changed next year to make it possible for clients from North Dakota to be referred to Clay County’s detox center. She said it would boost facility use and the county’s bottom line because funding could follow clients to Minnesota.

McKay said such a change would provide benefits and options for North Dakota hospitals and detox centers that can sometimes be overloaded, or just not a suitable facility for a given situation.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555