Port rehab shuts down after COVID exposure

Published 12:37 am Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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For the Washington Daily News


A local residential drug and alcohol rehab has been shut down until further notice. According to officials at Port Health Services, which runs the Port Rehab in Washington, the unit was closed early last week after it was discovered that someone at the Cowell Farm Road facility had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“We shut down late Monday or first thing Tuesday because of exposure to a known positive on the unit that was discovered late last week,” said Matt Lambeth, a clinical manager who supervises the three Port facilities located in eastern North Carolina.

He said the lag time between discovery of the positive test and closing of the facility was approved in order to let remaining patients finish their course of detox treatment. Lambeth said there are no pandemic-related issues at the facilities in Greenville and Ahoskie, and that those locations and others farther away that are run by Port Health Services are still accepting patients — including anyone from the Washington area who needs treatment.

“We have been dealing with COVID everywhere. There is constant testing everywhere that we have clinics, because especially now during seasonal weather changes, symptoms of a cold or allergy could just as easily be COVID-19. We are doing screenings and temperature checks at the door and repeatedly during the day, for patients as well as staff,” Lambeth said.

Lambeth said the decision to lock down the unit was made, in part, because there are so many other Port Health Services facilities currently operating with no pandemic-related problems. “The challenge here is that providers in the fields of mental health and substance abuse disorders have fought for the ability to stay open and continue to provide services when there has been considerable pressure to consider us non-essential,” Lambeth said. “When somebody reaches out, that’s the time to get them the help they need. That’s why we and others like Port Health Services are indeed essential and, thankfully, we have systems in place to handle this closure.”

Lambeth said those who were using the Washington facility as outpatients for issue-related classes and counseling are still being taken care of through online technology, including Zoom meetings with therapists and instructors. The two other Port facilities in eastern North Carolina continue to serve patients who need both in-house and outpatient treatments. In the event of a “full-house” situation, patients will be treated at a more distant Port location.

“It’s the conscientious and right thing for the town as well as the recovery community. Out of an abundance of caution, we are doing deep cleaning and multiple testing for staff and patients who might have been exposed at the Washington location. We will not reopen until we get an all clear signal,” Lambeth said, adding that Port Health Services’ crisis lines are available for anyone who needs advice or placement.

For emergency detox and mental health needs, call 252-561-6084. For outpatient and non-emergency needs, call 252-752-0483.