The coming new cutting-edge mental health facility in Guilford County may not just be for Guilford County residents.  It looks now as though one likely consequence of getting state funding for the project is that the facility could not limit its patient care to Guilford County residents.

Late last year, Guilford County government, in collaboration with Cone Health system and Sandhills Center – the management agency that oversees the administration of mental health and substance abuse care for nine counties including Guilford County – announced that it is dramatically altering the way mental health services are provided in Guilford County in an attempt to address major problems under the current regional system.

Part of that effort includes the construction of a new $20-million adult mental health care facility at Maple Professional Park on Third Street in Greensboro – and the county is asking for state help in funding that project.

County officials have been optimistic that the state will help pay for the construction of the new facility and it appears now that that will mean the center will have to be open to all residents of the state – though, in actual practice, the center would probably only draw patients from the surrounding counties.

State Rep. Jon Hardister said that he had met with Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips on Monday, Jan. 28 and discussed several issues including the possibility of state funding for the new mental health facility.

Hardister also said he had spoken with state legislators from this area and had begun discussing it with other state legislators.  He said he felt that those who represent other parts of the state would support financial backing for the project if it’s seen as part of a larger statewide plan with similar facilities built later in other parts of the state.

“It wouldn’t only serve people from Guilford County but also people from surrounding counties,” Hardister said.

He said that it is a model for other similar mental health centers across the state that are regional rather than county specific.

“If it works,” he said of the Guilford County model, “and I suspect it will, then the idea is to build similar facilities around the state. There may be one in Charlotte, for instance, and others in other areas.  Guilford County is the third largest metropolitan area in the state and we have a lot of population centers that could benefit from something similar.”

Hardister said the good news is that, so far, preliminary conversations regarding state funding have been very positive.  He said state legislators from this area certainly seem optimistic about the plans.

“I spoke with [state Rep.] John Faircloth and, while I can’t speak for him, he seemed very receptive,” Hardister said.

Hardister added that both Democratic and Republican legislators statewide realize that mental health issues and substance abuse are huge problems in North Carolina, and also said that, if Guilford County’s center can be seen as a regional model with the anticipation of more facilities in the pipeline, that will help state legislators in other areas of North Carolina get on board.

Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston said that he’d been made aware that a likely condition of state financial help for the mental health center would be that it would also serve those outside of Guilford County. Alston added that, given the county’s desire to keep costs as low as possible for area taxpayers, the stipulation seemed reasonable.