A new alcohol and drug detox program will open at the North Central Health Care Center Monday.
It's discontinuing its program in the psychiatric unit, in favor of a voluntary, outpatient program.
Patients will undergo detoxification in a less restrictive, more cost-effective way.
Currently the health care center sees about 350 detox patients every year. The old model took place inside the center's psychiatric unit where patients were locked down to receive treatment.
A federal panel recently said that model will no longer work.
"They have indicated that we are not to provide detoxification services in our psychiatric hospital unless individuals are admitted for a psychiatric reason," said Toni Simonson, the senior executive for the Human Services Operation.
The new ambulatory detox program, which begins on Monday, will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Once they get to the crisis center, patients will be assessed by staff, and if they consent be medically monitored through the detox process.
The process can take a few hours, to a few days depending on the circumstances.
This program is expected to be less expensive than detox in the psychiatric hospital, which cost $1,000 a day, but exact costs have not been finalized.
Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel is concerned the voluntary program will mean that many incapacitated people won't get the help they need.
Officers are called to check on people who are intoxicated on a daily basis. It's usually their job to bring them to the detox program to sober up.
"When officers arrive on scene, they make an evaluation to determine if that person can care for themselves or if they're a danger to themselves or other people," Chief Hardel said.
Hardel worries that since the program is voluntary, many will leave, only to be picked up again later. He also fears they could harm themselves or others in the meantime.
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