Providence Medford Medical Center has awarded the Addictions Recovery Center Inc. a $25,000 grant to help cover the start-up costs of creating the area’s first medically monitored detox center.

In 2013, the hospital conducted a community health needs assessment and identified gaps in the areas of mental health, drug and alcohol addiction and dental care. And in response, it decided to partner with ARC in its effort to create a more affordable and convenient option for people withdrawing from large doses of drugs and/or alcohol and requiring medical oversight.

“These patients can be safely monitored as they withdraw from these chemicals, and they don’t need to be in a hospital setting to do that,” said Cindy Mayo, chief executive officer of the Southern Oregon service area for Providence.

ARC plans to make room in its Moore Center on North Front Street for an eight-bed detox center, which organizers hope to open sometime in 2015.

Currently, ARC must refer people in need of medically supervised detox to facilities in Eugene or Portland or, if their cases are “severely acute,” to the hospital, said Christine Mason, ARC's executive director.

There are a lot of people coming off high doses of benzodiazepines (such as Valium and Xanax), opiates and alcohol who need medication and medical monitoring at the beginning, before receiving treatment services, said Jim Shames, Jackson County’s public health director.

“We are trying to get them to a place where they can safely move to a different level of care,” he said.

On average, these people require three to five days of care in a detox center before beginning treatment services through ARC or another agency, Mason said.

“If we filled all eight beds and every patient stayed an average of five days, that would be 584 individuals that we could serve in one year,” she said.

So far, ARC has raised about $225,000 of the $325,000 it needs to open the center.

“We are about $100,000 away from what we need, but I’m confident that the community will step forward,” Mason said. “As soon as we are confident that we can get that, then we can begin hiring licensed medical professionals.”

Mason said she fully expects the center to be sustainable within six months of operation.

“(Addictions) impact health in so many ways that in order for us to have a healthy community, we must have all the care available for people who want to get well,” she said.

 Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.