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Care Campus Turns One

Care Campus Program Director Dave Oster takes a piece of cake while Pennington County Chief Deputy Willie Whelchel, right, cuts the birthday cake Thursday at the Pennington County Care Campus' celebration of its one-year anniversary in Rapid City.

Admissions to Pennington County's all-in-one social service complex totaled slightly more than 24,000 during its first year in operation.

That total surprised nearly everyone who works out of the Care Campus, county Health and Human Services director Barry Tice said Thursday. More surprising still, he said, is that many of the individuals who sought help at the complex did so of their own free will.

According to records shared with the Rapid City Journal, 64 percent of campus admissions in 2019 were self-referrals.

"That's less people passing out in our parks and in downtown and in the alleys and stairwells of businesses," Tice told reporters Thursday.

Gathered in the campus conference room Tuesday afternoon, county government and public safety officials appeared similarly optimistic about their odds of helping an even greater number of people in the future. In several weeks, Tice said, the doors to the complex's 64-bed, in-patient treatment center will open for admission.

"The staff has worked very hard to make this happen," said Sheriff Kevin Thom before thanking local public safety agencies.

The treatment center will be located on the second floor of the campus' 70,000-square-foot Care Center. Located at the former National American University campus at 321 Kansas City St., the center houses several departments and programs under one roof.

The first few candidates for admission to the in-patient treatment area will be recommended by county jail and court officials, Thom said. A rendering of the treatment area shows that patients will sleep four to a room, each of which has two bunk beds.

Half of the available beds will be for males and the other half will be for females. Treatment for issues with methamphetamine, opioids, alcohol and heroin will be available.

The most widely used campus service in 2019 was the "Safe Solutions" center, which is replete with mats and safe spaces for intoxicated people to rest. The services accounted for approximately 68 percent of admissions.

Initially, Tice said that staff expected more female admissions than male. In the end, male admissions totaled approximately 77 percent, or 18,627 men. Tice said that might be because many of the women who could benefit from admission to the campus are in abusive and controlling home situations.

Approximately 23 percent of admissions were females.

Tice said that the figures for 2019 reflect re-admissions, and that the campus hopes to collect more data on usage next year.

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— Contact Matthew Guerry at matthew.guerry@rapidcityjournal.com

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