BULLHEAD CITY — Looking out at the bigger-than-expected crowd gathered for Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the WestCare women’s residential treatment center, Cheryl DeBatt could come up with only one word.
“Wow,” she said.
DeBatt, local director for WestCare Arizona, was overwhelmed by the turnout. She said she also has been overwhelmed by the support from the community for the first residential treatment facility specifically for women in the area.
“We couldn’t have done it without our community and the wonderful people of WestCare,” she said. “Let the dream and healing begin.”
The 16-bed facility is expected to open in late March or early April, “once the licensure is approved,” DeBatt said. “We’re still working through those hoops.”
WestCare already owned the 3,600-square-foot building — it previously was used as a safe house for women in domestic violence situations. The house on Agate Drive underwent major renovation. The facility, officially to be known as “Hildy’s House,” was remodeled with the help of a state grant, local fundraising and in-kind contributions from a number of individuals and businesses.
“I am always saying we have one of the best communities and here we are again, all together, seeing the end result of what a community can do when we pull together,” DeBatt said. “There have been so many different organizations and people who have donated and helped us in so many ways.
“We all say thank you, thank you and thank you.”
Once operational, the center will be a temporary home for women suffering from chemical dependency.
“Together, we have created this 16-bed behavioral health residential home as a place where women can come and stay for up to 30 days and change their lives, getting clean from drugs and alcohol, changing their behavior and learning to make their lives positive and productive, all in a place that offers the comforts of home,” DeBatt said.
There are bedrooms, office space for staff including a nurse, a commercial-grade kitchen, a dining area, a living room, a meditation/quiet room, outdoor space for dining and lounging and a detached garage that has been transformed into a storage area complete with a walk-in freezer.
She said the home will be staffed around the clock with a licensed clinician on site to provide individual counseling to address specific needs. A cook will prepare meals on site and transportation will be provided to give the residents access to off-site health care if needed.
“We will work with our community partners to ensure these women are taken care of, to include medically assisted treament for opioid disorder,” DeBatt said.
Mohave County Sup. Hildy Angius, whose 2nd District includes Bullhead City, was instrumental in getting the project off the ground. She said she went through her own chemical dependancy issues nearly 14 years ago and learned there were no residential treatment facilities for women in Mohave County. She set out to change that, joined by a host of elected officials and agency representatives to answer the need.
“Teamwork,” said State Sen. Sonny Borrelli, who was among those to embrace the project in its infancy. “People working together for a common cause.
“I’m proud to be part of that team.”
State Rep. Regina Cobb also was part of the team. She said she had a personal stake in the success of the facility, saying that her mother died because of an opioid addiction.
Angius singled out efforts by a number of people, starting with DeBatt and health care lawyer Darcy Downs-Vollbracht.
“Darcy knew the legal end of putting a facility together and Cheryl knew the behavioral health part.”
To pursue the grant, Larry Tunforss of the Mohave Area Partnership Promoting Educated Decisions and the Mohave Substance Treatment, Education and Prevention Partnership, joined the team.
“The four of us put together a presentation and physically brought it to the governor’s office right before Thanksgiving of 2016,” Angius said. “With the assistance of (Cobb and Borrelli), we presented it to the governor’s office.”
Angius said WestCare was awarded the grant in March of 2017. She credited Jami Snyder, director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, and Shawn Nau, CEO of Health Choice Arizona and Health Choice Generations, for helping turn the grant into a tangible project.
“In any project, there is someone who gets the credit and then the many people who actually do the work. These people behind me did all the work,” Angius said after being joined in front of Friday’s audience by those key players.
“This is much more than Hildy’s House. This is our house,” she said.
Angius said she was thrilled with Friday’s turnout, which filled the courtyard behind the single-level house and included the ceremonial cutting of ribbons from the Bullhead Area and Laughlin chambers of commerce.
“What used to be something nobody talked about,” she said, speaking generally about a women’s treatment facility in Bullhead City, then specifically about the home that has come to fruition, “is now something being celebrated.”