Helmut Schmidt, Published September 14 2013
Fargo detox center, Gladys Ray Shelter may combine effortsFARGO – With detox center admissions more than tripling in the past decade here, city officials propose the detox and Gladys Ray Emergency Homeless Shelter programs be managed together under city control to help end what has become a revolving door of addiction services for some clients.
In a memo to city commissioners, Fargo City Administrator Pat Zavoral said that an ad hoc committee determined streamlining the management of the detox facility and the shelter will improve referrals to local, state and federal support programs and “hopefully reduce the number of times a person needs emergency shelter or detoxification support.”
The Gladys Ray Shelter is the only shelter in town that admits people who have been drinking.
Detox staff are employed by Centre Inc., a nonprofit agency. Emergency shelter staff members have contracts with the city.
The proposal calls for the shelter administrator to manage the shared facility and both programs. All of the workers would be city employees, and the facility and staff would be part of the city’s public health services portfolio.
Detox admissions in Fargo have gone from 894 in 2003 to 3,345 in 2012, city figures show. Among those 2012 admissions, the services were used by 1,239 people.
Many of those admitted, 842, were admitted for treatment just once.
However, 94 people needed detox services between five and nine times in 2012; 10 people needed the services 30 to 49 times; three people were admitted 50 to 59 times; and one person was admitted 90 or more times that year, city figures show.
Zavoral said it’s also hoped that a pay-to-stay system can be created for other agencies that use the city’s detox.
“Currently, the city of Fargo has the only shelter/detox facility in the metro area and this region of the state. Other communities and counties in the area (sometimes the state) bring or send their clients to Fargo without paying for this service,” Zavoral wrote.
Gladys Ray Shelter Director Jan Eliassen said Saturday that the proposal is sound.
“I think it’s a natural and logical move at this point,” Eliassen said.
“It will definitely improve the likelihood that people get connected to services. And it will just start taking things in a new direction. That’s why I feel it’s a natural, logical move. We’re working with those folks now and I think it will make the whole operation more efficient, more cost effective, and ultimately serve people better.”
The Gladys Ray Shelter has 35 beds. Eliassen said. It also hosts a daytime veterans drop-in center.
Centre has contracted with the city for detox services since the early 1990s. It can handle 20 people at a time.
Centre Detox shares a building with the Gladys Ray Shelter, which is operated by the city, at 1519 1st Ave. S.
State laws allow police to hold individuals for up to 24 hours for social detox, but don’t require a connection with further services.
Detox expenses for 2012 were about $460,000, while Gladys Ray Shelter costs were $363,000, city figures show.
The city ad hoc group on the issue is made up of police Chief Keith Ternes, Public Health Director Ruth Bachmeier, Community Development Administrator Dan Mahli, and Zavoral. They had been meeting since 2012, Zavoral said in his memo.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583