Two years and too many opioid-related deaths ago, the Cape Region missed out when state officials flirted with establishing a detox center in Lewes, but ultimately chose Harrington.
Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth, said he recognized the need for a local center, and he said knows exactly where he wants to put one – the Route 1 building currently home to State Police Troop 7. A new home for the troop is expected to be built along Mulberry Knoll Road just off Route 24, behind the new Love Creek Elementary School.
“I’ve laid claim to that building,” said Schwartzkopf. “I’ve already told the governor, too.”
In October 2014, former Gov. Jack Markell announced a state commitment to provide more substance abuse services. About $1 million was set aside for a new downstate facility. The Harrington location was chosen after a Lewes site fell through because of zoning issues.
Schwartzkopf spoke on the issue Nov. 28, during a dual constituent coffee with Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes. The two men hosted Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker at Java Jukebox in Rehoboth.
Walker’s appearance came 24 hours after her department put out a press release saying 11 people in Delaware – three in Kent and Sussex counties – died from overdoses over the Thanksgiving weekend. Through Nov. 26, said the release, the total number of deaths from suspected overdoses is 215.
Walker, who was sworn in as secretary in February, didn’t comment on the detox center location. She said her department is trying hard to get a handle on addiction. It’s a chronic disease, with many pieces, she said.
More broadly, Walker said healthcare costs in Delaware are the third highest per capita in the country. She said 30 percent of the state’s $4 billion budget is related to healthcare costs and, as of right now, future years are expected to see a 6 percent to 7 percent increase each year. Walker said these costs affect everything in the state, including addiction treatment.
“Everything in our state is more expensive,” she said. “We have a lot to do in our state.”
As part of a statewide tour, DHSS officials are holding community sessions for people dealing with opioid addiction. The third, and final, session is from 2 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 14, at Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus, Carter Partnership Center, 21179 College Drive, Georgetown.