Officials at a West Baltimore drug and alcohol treatment facility officially opened renovated and expanded space Thursday able to handle a tenfold increase of people for inpatient detoxification treatment, up from four to 40.
Tuerk House has been operating for five decades and is among the city’s oldest treatment centers. It has embarked on a $10.2 million expansion at a time when drug overdose deaths are at historic highs. The new beds represent the first phase of the planned upgrades.
Treatment centers have been overwhelmed in recent years as the opioid epidemic has caused unprecedented overdoses and deaths. The majority of the deaths have been linked to opioids such as heroin and the stronger synthetic drug fentanyl.
The treatment center provides services for about 300 people a day, and since last year has also been operating a temporary crisis stabilization center on behalf of the Baltimore Health Department, which is renovating a building next door for a 24-hour-a-day permanent center. The $17 million project will expand the stabilization center’s capacity to 40 beds from 15.
The stabilization center is where emergency workers can bring those in need of acute care for intoxication or overdose, rather than take them to the emergency room or jail. In the 12 months ended in May, 635 people received care in the center, and 60 percent have gone onto addiction treatment programs.
The ribbon cutting Thursday was attended by James W. Carroll Jr., director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, also known as the nation’s drug czar. Also in attendance was Kendall Ehrlich, Maryland’s former first lady, who is now the deputy director of the drug office.
The nonprofit Tuerk House has been collecting grants and donations — it serves people regardless of their ability to pay. Officials reports more than three-quarters of people seeking aid are uninsured or on Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the poor.
The center merged in 2017 with Total Health Care, which allows it to provide other services besides addiction treatment, such as primary medical and dental care and infectious disease management.
The remainder of the expansion, to be completed in 2023 or earlier, will increase the number of Tuerk House’s treatment beds to 96.