New detox center admits 36 people in 3 weeks

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A new, 24-hour, 16-bed facility for people who struggle with substance abuse is already helping people in St. Johns County battle addiction.

Epic Recovery, off U.S. Highway 1 in St. Augustine, opened three weeks ago and is hoping to help more people as it works with hospitals and the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office to get those people the help they need.

The last time the county had a detoxification center was in the 1980s. People who live in the area say there's been a growing need for a substance abuse treatment center.

"We've admitted 36 people, and tomorrow will be three weeks, so it's evident that this has been needed," said Patti Greenough, CEO of Epic Behavioral Healthcare.

Of the patients treated so far, more than half have been treated for alcohol abuse and about 35 percent for prescription drug abuse.

About 75 percent of the patients have been men.

Greenough said the lack of resources and funding shut the first center down. But an effort from law enforcement to city, county, state and health leaders pushed for the $1.65 million space, with $1.3 million in yearly support from the state Legislature.

"It really was what I call all the stars lined up at once," Greenough said. "The county put it as one of their legislative priorities. The sheriff has been saying for years that he wanted to see a detox back."

At Epic Recovery, 28 staff members provide substance abuse treatment. There are 16 beds at the facility, including four residential beds for long-term care.

Photos of nature, landmarks and other scenes of life in and around St. Augustine hang on the walls. Greenough said she wanted to make the place feel like home.

"The whole idea, the whole vision of the recovery center was sort of a 'medical home' for people so that they know where to come, this would be their place, they are familiar with it," Greenough said.

The center's goal is to help about 650 people recover from drug and alcohol addicts by the end of the year.

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