JACKSONVILLE — It’s yet another unfortunate outcome of the budget impasse.
The Wells Center, the city’s only drug recovery facility, will close its doors for good due to a lack of state funding. It’s been running for 49 years.
With heroin use on the rise, experts say it could have a huge domino effect on, not only the immediate community, but all of the state.
Starting in April, the center will no longer serve those in need.
“It’s unconscionable that we continue to see the erosion of the system and the loss of services for the people that desperately need them.”
CEO of the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health Sarah Howe says this will force patients into overcrowded facilities in surrounding communities.
“It’s going to add more pressure to their already strapped systems.”
On average, the center serves 500 clients annually. That’s 500 people who will have to seek treatment elsewhere, or worse, go without treatment.
“We’re talking damaging that you can’t get back. You can’t get lives back.”
Like many cities, Jacksonville is seeing an increase in heroin use.
“Probably, last month, we’ve had two incidents happening simultaneously. We are seeing an uptick.”
The fire chief says the center’s closing will have a ripple affect on the community.
“The Wells Center offering those resources is just another resource leaving the community.”
Howe says this isn’t the only facility facing a grim future. Others are also at risk because of the budget crisis.
She believes the loss of drug treatment facilities will have devastating long-term effects to the state for years to come.
“It hasn’t gone down or ended at all. Just continues to get worse.”
“I would hope that this would move others to get a budget resolved as quickly as possible because there are real lives on the line.”
The facility has been forced to make cuts for years now. The state currently owes the Wells Center $1.4 million in funding.
The center will be laying off 33 employees. It has the capacity to house 32 at one time.