By Brandon Martin
Piedmont Community Services (PCS) is planning to add a recovery center to assist with mental health services in the area.
During a Feb. 23 Martinsville City Council meeting, Greg Preston, director, said the organization purchased the former National College building on Memorial Boulevard to house the effort.
“We are excited to announce that in November, we were fortunate enough to purchase the location that used to be the old National Business College,” Preston said. “We’re going to build a recovery center to meet the needs of Martinsville and Henry County for substance-use disorders.”
Preston said it would take approximately a year to get the facility to operational capacity, with programs to be phased in gradually. The first of which would be Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) services.
Sharon Buckman, director of clinical services, said PCS has expanded its recovery-oriented services.
Instead of focusing on the mental health or substance-use disorder symptoms, “our recovery services are there to help people recover their roles in life,” she said, and added the agency’s recovery programs have helped many gain employment after treatment.
“Our newest program in the recovery services area is called Pathways to Recovery,” Buckman said. “This is a peer-run center, regularly operating three evenings a week. Services are provided by staff who are certified peer recovery specialists. So, they have lived experience with mental health or substance-use challenges but with documented recovery from those challenges, but also have been through the training program and are under clinical supervision.”
Buckman said peer-support allows patients to develop their own individualized recovery plan which also allows them to “engage in the community to feel supported.”
Preston said that recovery services are only a portion of what the organization offers.
“Our mission is to help individuals and families in the community to enhance their quality of life by providing a highly-effective continuum of behavioral health services including prevention, treatment, education, and support within available resources,” Preston said. “We provide mental health, mental retardation and developmental disability services, substance-use disorder services, prevention and emergency services━just a host of services.”
Buckman said some patients receive daily care.
“We see individuals every day, sometimes twice a day, and make sure they are taking their medications. Our psychiatrist does his services within the individual’s homes,” Buckman said. “These are folks that might otherwise be going in and out of inpatient treatment. We serve about 90 people. It helps us keep people out of the hospital and in the community to make sure they have food, their utilities are on, and that they have a place to live.”
Preston said the organization has seen an increase in the need for services in recent years.
“Over the last 10 years, we’ve had 41 percent growth,” he said. “Out of the four areas that we serve, we serve 7,482 individuals in 2020. We did see a dip in services, mainly due to COVID, but we did see a spike in Martinsville. We’ve seen spikes in (ages) 0-9 and ages 10-19. As well as ages 20-39. We’re also seeing a spike in males in need of services.”
With the increased caseload, Preston said that PCS has begun to implement same-day access services which has helped 4,683 individuals in the past year.
With same-day access, Buckman said “you just walk in and we have someone that can talk with you, do your assessment and help you decide the services that are right for you.”
She said the process began in April 2018 to help “eliminate some of the barriers people have experienced in the past. With calling, it would be a while before they could get an appointment, the crisis of the moment passed, and they are less likely to keep the appointment. But then with that appointment time tied up, it took longer for the next person who called to get something scheduled.”
Shannon Clark, director of community support, discussed some of the group homes operated by the organization.
“Cherry House and Independence group homes were built and concluded in 2019. They serve in each home four residents,” Clark said. “It’s fully-handicapped accessible. The focus of the individuals in those homes are medical.”
PCS also offers an immediate care facility called Piedmont Homes.
“It serves eight individuals,” she added. “That home is a step up from a regular waiver group home, but it’s a step down from a nursing care facility. Individuals within that home only have to have developmental disabilities and Medicaid.”
Clark said that PCS also has started to provide housing vouchers through its Permanent Support Housing Program.
“We have been able to house individuals that have barriers to gain sustained housing,” Clark said. “Meeting the housing needs for these individuals is crucial because any other way they would not have been able to get housing based on barriers due to substance abuse or others. The target population either comes through community referrals, coming out of facilities, or just some other type of life situation. Those individuals that receive permanent support housing vouchers also receive intensive case management services.”
Preston said the organization has come a long way in terms of services provided, and it soon will hit a milestone.
“We will be celebrating 50 years of service in 2022. We are excited about our dedicated service, not only to Martinsville, but Patrick, Franklin and Henry counties,” Preston said.
In other matters, city council:
*Heard an update on fiscal year 2021 electric department operations from Director Durwin Joyce. Total power until the end of December was 85,996 MWh. Average cost of purchased power equaled $82.93. During the period, revenues outpaced expenditures by $1,314,647.
“We do have some large projects, multi-year projects, so a lot of that money rolls over through the year and that doesn’t really show up to the end of the year,” Joyce said.
The city saved $150,000 by rebuilding the Aaron Street substation with city staff rather than contracting the work to another vendor, according to Joyce.
Joyce discussed impacts on the department from COVID-19. He said that arrears, as of the week ending Feb. 19, were approximately $167,000 over 461 accounts.
“We’ll soon be approaching $350,000 that has been applied to customer accounts” using money received through federal funds, Joyce said.
A scheduled power outage is set for May 8 and May 9 from midnight to 4 a.m., with alternate dates of May 15 and May 16, “due to some AEP substation upgrades,” he said.
Joyce also discussed the process for how the department handles restoration efforts following outages such as the one that occurred in the most recent ice storm.
“Anytime we have widespread outages, we do prioritize,” based on how many people can be affected based on the amount of time worked, he said.
“When we lose power for an extended amount of time, especially in cold weather, the power comes back on and everyone’s heat pumps are on, heat strips are on, the water heaters are on. The breaker stays on, but the fuses will drop out.”
Joyce said fixing this usually delays some customers receiving power.
*Convened as the Martinsville Redevelopment and Housing Authority to approve the BB&T building contract of sale and development agreement.
City Attorney and Assistant City Manager Eric Monday said the building will remain in possession of the authority for a 12-month due diligence period while the developers ensure their plan will be feasible and that finances are available.
After that, the authority will sell the property to the developers for $25,000, which is the price it was acquired for from BB&T.
“The transaction will come out being a wash for the authority,” Monday said.
The developers will then have 36-months to redevelop the property.
“They will do so primarily as a residential rental apartment complex,” Monday said. “It’s primarily one and two-bedroom units in the tower part of the building. There will be commercial space installed on the main banking floor. Depending on the recovery of the commercial market, other parts of the building may also be redeveloped.”
Monday said the developers agreed to install an amenity on the roof of the building, adding that it could serve as a roof-top bar or another feature to attract attention to Uptown.
“If at the end of the 36-month period, the developer is for whatever reason unable to redevelop the property, there is a clawback provision,” Monday said. “The authority could then reacquire the property along with all improvements that have been made to the property during the development period. Only if it’s unsuccessful.”
Monday said the initial $25,000 price for the property would apply to the clawback.
He added that plans to relocate city hall to the property are no longer being considered.
*Heard from Jane Martin, who wrote to the council about a disparity in the number of COVID-19 vaccines received by city residents compared to the rest of the West Piedmont Health District.
Mayor Kathy Lawson noted “anyone who gets a shot at Sovah-Martinsville, those numbers are reported by Sovah-Danville in the Pittsylvania County district. It depends on where the shot is being given, as to where it is being reported. The district may not be the district that the shot was actually given in.”
Other members of the council also said they’ve had trouble getting answers about the requirements to receive vaccines.
*Recognized city employees with service awards for the period Jan. 1-March 31, 2021: Richard Penn for five years in the electric department; LC Jones, Edwin Clark, and James Fortner for five years in the police department; Christopher Bell for 10 years in the police department; Sheila Clark for 25 years in the treasurer’s department; Jimmy Ashworth and Rodney Howell for 25 years in the fire department; and Coretha Gravely for 30 year in the police department.