CHARLOTTE, N.C. — “Welcome to Tomorrow.” That’s what Mary Ward writes on the wall at the new building in Charlotte for the McLeod Centers for Wellbeing.
What You Need To Know
- The McLeod Centers for Wellbeing will soon be opening its new building
- It will have 36 beds where patients can stay for up to 28 days
- The center's president says the building was designed with the patient in mind
Ward is the president of the nonprofit, and says this message will greet people as they walk inside.
"One of the hardest things someone does is walk through our doors for the first time, and yesterday does not define tomorrow,” she said.
The McLeod Centers for Wellbeing has locations across the Piedmont and Western North Carolina.
The new location in Charlotte is at 500 Archdale Drive, where it will offer 36 beds and people can stay up to 28 days.
They also have space for telehealth, reaching even more people.
“Now we will be able to set up telehealth space, so that a provider or a therapist can virtually connect to someone who may be in another county,” Ward said.
Ward says this building is unique because it was designed with the patient’s journey in mind.
“And that’s one of the reasons this building is so important, because it was designed with the patient in mind,” Ward said. "What’s their journey look like, how are they moving through the building and really what’s their experience.”
For example, the waiting room is off to the side.
“This is what we did for their dignity and respect because if you look at most medical practices, their waiting area is open to the front door and so anyone who walks in the front door is gonna see any patient who is waiting to be seen,” she said. "And we very deliberately designed our space to where patients waiting to receive care are away from the general public in the main lobby.”
This new center also comes at a time when it is needed most. The nation’s drug overdose and death epidemic continues to worsen, according to the American Medical Association.
Ward says synthetic drugs are making people sicker.
“So when we first started back in the early 1970s, dosing what then we only had access to was methadone, we saw heroin use, which obviously is plant-based. In today’s time, not only do we see heroine, we also see synthetics, so fentanyl and fentanyl derivatives are running rampant,” Ward said. “And it is a totally different day than what we saw many years ago. What the synthetics do is they have a longer half-life, which means they stay in the body longer than plant-based substances like heroine. And so what we are seeing is that patients actually are sicker than they’ve ever been before, they're requiring more medication to stabilize and they are struggling.”
Charlotte pediatrician Dr. Jonnie H. McLeod founded a counseling center in 1969 to help people struggling with substance use disorder.
In 1972, the McLeod Centers opened.
It was the first methadone-assisted treatment clinic in the Charlotte area.
Methadone is a medication approved by the FDA to treat Opioid Use Disorder, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
It reduces opioid cravings and withdrawal.
McLeod wanted to help people, regardless of their ability to pay.
“Our founder took patients into the basement of her home before McLeod was started, and now that we have this wonderful facility, we’re able to do that,” Ward said. “And that’s always been the model that we have followed. We take care of the patient first and figure out reimbursement, insurance coverage, indigent care coverage, Medicare, Medicaid, things along those lines. We figure that out later.”
This new building will allow them to continue the mission of Dr. McLeod.
"What we have done is designed a space in a way that, that the journey can be inspirational and can remind you that you are not alone in this,” she said.
The new building is expected to open later this month.