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MetroHealth Plans Treatment Center With Help From Opioid Settlement Funds

Cuyahoga County will direct a share of its opioid settlement funds to a new behavioral health and addiction treatment center the MetroHealth System plans to open in Cleveland Heights.

The public hospital system is building a 110-bed expansion to its Cleveland Heights Medical Center at Severance Circle. Construction on the $42 million facility is expected to wrap up in 2022, according to a MetroHealth press release.

“Because it’s MetroHealth, we accept all comers, uninsured, Medicaid, insured, it doesn’t really matter to us,” CEO Akram Boutros said. “Many of the programs today that have come to fruition recently are very selective on private pay and commercial insurance.”

The center’s caregivers will treat adolescents, adults and senior citizens. Older adults especially face growing behavioral health needs, Boutros said.

“And it will treat them with specifically designed units for mood disorder, thought disorder, addiction services, those with concomitant serious medical conditions,” he said.

Cuyahoga County Council will consider contributing $5 million to the project from the pool of settlement money received from drug manufacturers and distributors last year.

The county has used portions of its $179 opioid mitigation fund to expand local drug treatment initiatives. Last week, County Executive Armond Budish announced a $9.2 million jail diversion program with the Cuyahoga County Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services Board.  

That center, operated by Oriana House on Cleveland’s East Side, will offer mental health and addiction treatment for people who otherwise would be taken to jail after an arrest.

As many as 600 people may die of drug overdoses in Cuyahoga County this year, according to October projections from the medical examiner’s office. It would be an increase over the past two years, and part of a five-year surge in deaths driven by fentanyl overdoses.

Cuyahoga and Summit counties were the first of thousands of local governments to head to trial last year in a nationwide lawsuit against the drug industry over the opioid crisis. The trial was called off at the last minute after the defendant companies agreed to settlements, though both counties still have legal claims against pharmacy chains. That case is still pending.

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