Well, you knew it was coming sooner or later and, if you drew “sooner” in your office betting pool, then you are the winner.
In fact, the ink is barely dry on the contract between Guilford County and Cone Health – for the giant health system to operate the county’s coming mental health facility in Greensboro – but already some residents in High Point want to know when that city will get its own mental health center.
In fact, some High Point leaders and residents have been wondering about that ever since the massive deal between Cone and Guilford County was announced, and, at the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Thursday, Jan. 17 meeting, Commissioner Carlvena Foster, who represents constituents in High Point, officially raised the question.
“I’m going to put it out there because it’s already been asked by my High Point constituents – this facility is not centrally located,” she said. “It is not in close proximity to High Point.”
Foster went on to ask how the facility would benefit and serve High Point given that it was in Greensboro.
Guilford County, unlike nearly every other county in the state, has two main population centers – Greensboro and High Point. Because of that, the county has a history of providing two of nearly every major service. There are two courthouses and two jails and there are duplicate county offices for the Register of Deeds, the Tax Department, social services and many other county services.
When Greensboro got a Guilford County Family Justice Center in 2015, High Point wanted one too – and now that city has one. Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers has been advocating for a second sheriff’s office in High Point and, of course, now that Greensboro is getting a new county mental health center, many in High Point think it’s only fair that their city get one too.
This question of duplicate services is always a touchy subject because High Point citizens and leaders often say their city is treated as the “red-headed step-child” of Guilford County.
Unlike other county services, however, High Point residents shouldn’t hold their breath on this one. It’s one thing to open a satellite tax office or make some space in the courthouse for a Family Justice Center, but the county is spending $20 million to build the facility in Greensboro and it will be staffed with a host of medical professionals – so it’s no easy task to whip off a second version.
As one sign of the complexity of the project, at the Jan. 17 county commissioners meeting, the county entered into a contract with Cone that took almost two years to bang out.
Guilford County Commissioner Alan Perdue, who, like Foster, has constituents in High Point, said this project was unique and not like others that had been duplicated in High Point.
“These are specialized services and you can’t just build a model like this in every location,” Perdue said, “but we’ve looked at transportation, and there will also be some services offered in High Point by other vendors, and we will work together on this to help all citizens in Guilford County – Greensboro, High Point or no matter where you reside.”
In response to Foster’s comments at the Jan. 17 meeting, Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing spoke on the rationale for the mental health center’s placement – in Greensboro at Maple Professional Park.
It’s in an excellent location but it is in Greensboro,” Lawing acknowledged. “It’s directly behind the Guilford County Health and Human Services building on Maple Street,” he said adding that it was also near a Greensboro Police Department substation.
Commissioner Jeff Phillips, who played a lead role in negotiating the deal with Cone said after the meeting that the agreement was one of “incredible complexity” and it involved a large number of “moving parts” coming together.