A proposal to create a single "campus-type setting" for some of Fairfax County's drug and alcohol abuse programs ignited sharp protests yesterday from county supervisors who said that the two operations should remain separate.
The proposal to handle inpatient drug and alcohol programs at one location was part of a sweeping plan to reorganize county services for substance abusers and fill what officials said were gaps in various programs in Fairfax.
"You're talking about cost efficiency and we're talking about human needs," Supervisor Martha V. Pennino (D-Centreville) told officials who had proposed the reorganization. "We're not sure that putting these programs together is going to solve the human needs."
Despite the concerns of Pennino and some other supervisors, the County Board of Supervisors took no formal action to block the proposal, apparently because of assurances that the drug and alcohol programs would remain separate at the new site.
"The proposal is to keep two distinct programs, but to colocate them in a campus-type design, perhaps in two wings of a building," said Richard J. Loebl, director of alcohol and drug programs for the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board. The board is a public agency that oversees the county's substance-abuse programs.
There is no firm location or schedule for building the proposed campus. Democratic Supervisor Joseph Alexander said that a developer has agreed to donate five acres for the residential drug program in Lee District's Lehigh tract, just south of Franconia.
County officials said they were unsure if the five acres would be enough to accommodate the combined drug and alcohol patient facilities.
Alexander also balked at the campus idea, which he said he had not heard until yesterday's board meeting. "The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," he said.
"I've talked to this developer about setting aside space for Crossroads," the county's 40-bed residential drug treatment program used primarily by young people, said Alexander.
"Finding a new place for Crossroads is not very easy, and finding a campus is even more difficult," said County Board Chairman John F. Herrity.
The Crossroads program is currently next to the Huntington Metro station, where it rents space from the transit authority. Ten of the 40 beds for drug patients are in a trailer there, a situation Loebl called "potentially dangerous."
The county capital improvement program calls for spending $3 million to move the Crossroads program, but makes no provision for moving the 18-bed residential alcohol program, known as The New Beginning, now in Chantilly.
The Community Services Board also runs large outpatient programs for both drug and alcohol patients. They would be consolidated under the plan, so that all outpatient services would be available at four clinics around the county.