A new detox center in Sandusky will open Jan. 2 and will welcome patients from across the region.

The new 16-bed facility was built as an extension of the Erie County Health Department, 420 Superior St.

While its main focus will be patients from Erie and Ottawa counties, Trey Hardy, chief of behavioral health for the department, said it also will welcome people from Lorain County.

“The preference will be for residents of Erie and Ottawa counties because we had some funding provided through our local mental health and recovery board,” Hardy said. “But if we have beds available, we will be accepting patients from anywhere in the state.”

Hardy said the plan for the center goes back to a concept at the County Health Department called the Circle of Care.

“We got some funding from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services as well as the local county commissioners,” he said. “So everyone, including the health department, contributed 25 percent to the cost of building the facility.”

The facility will be a 24-hour, seven days a week medically managed detoxification unit for drugs and alcohol.

According to Hardy, it will be the only such facility between Cleveland and Toledo.

The center will serve adult men and women, with eight rooms each going to either gender.

“Obviously, because of the national crisis that’s occurring, the opioid epidemic and the drug crisis that’s happening, we were seeing lots of overdoses, lots of overdose deaths, a lot of people showing up at different agencies within our area that the agency didn’t have the ability to provide the proper care or service delivery,” Hardy said.

The County Health Department is trying to create a model where people would start with the detox, he said. Then it hopes to develop residential facilities where patients could have counseling and medical services provided to them.

According to Hardy, the County Health Department worked with several other detox centers across the state to design the state-of-the-art facility which features a nurse’s station, two common rooms, a day kitchen and a commercial center where other agencies can host seminars.

Legally, the center only can house 16 beds, but a piece of legislation may raise that to 32 beds, he said. The center is ready to double its number of beds if the legislation passes.

The County Health Department already has reached out to six people who have expressed a desire to enter such a center, Hardy said.

But the facility will be entirely voluntary and sometimes those struggling with addiction change their minds about getting treatment, he said.