JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Tri-Cities Holding, LLC hopes to open a drug treatment facility on Wesley Court, but it's facing stiff community opposition.
The officials at Families Free, a non-profit organization that works with recovering drug-addicted women, are fighting the center's opening by taking issue with the treatment program. "It needs to be more holistic. You can't just give a pill, but you need to also teach them the skills and prevention resources needed to make certain they have long-term from relapse," says Julie Sears, Director of Operations at Families Free.
Owner Steve Kester dismisses those concerns saying the staff will focus on the patients' long-term recovery. "The counseling and nurses are a major aspect. 80 percent of the workers there are counselors and nurses dealing with the financial issues of the patient, family issues of the patient, and employment issues," says owner Steve Kester.
News 5 WCYB obtained a copy of this November report from the Georgia Department of Health. It addresses violations of a treatment facility in Ringgold, Georgia, a center owned by a company that was co-founded by Steve Kester.
Inspectors found issues with the training of staff members not meeting state requirements.
Kester says the report was issued after he resigned as an officer with the company and says a facility under his new company will operate according to regulations. "I want to give you assurance that our counselors are trained according to the state guidelines," says Kester.
He also addressed concerns about how the medication would be stored in this center after one of his company's facilities was broken into in western North Carolina.
He described the location similar to that of a bank vault. "I can say on record that we take the security of the methadone, like nearly every operator does, very seriously," says Kester.
After this public hearing in Johnson City last month, the facility must be given a certificate of need by the State of Tennessee. The plan goes before a panel in Nashville for Certificate of Need later this month.
Kester says he feels confident the request will be granted.