Howard G. Buffett Foundation to fund Community Care Campus

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DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - The Howard G. Buffett Foundation announced a major investment in Decatur Wednesday. 

The Foundation will invest $30 million on a drug treatment campus, which will use 21 acres of land to help provide treatment to people dealing with drug problems in central Illinois. State-of-the-art facilities will include a 31,000 square foot detox and residential rehabilitation building, an 18,000 square foot outpatient treatment center and a 17,000 square foot transitional housing building. 

The land is between Central Avenue and Marietta Street. Crossing Healthcare currently operates in that area. 

Crossing will operate the facilities and employ as many as 200 people. Construction is expected to provide about 200 jobs. The entire project is expected to create over $53 million of economic impact. 

Howard Buffett, who is Macon County's sheriff, says he has seen up close just how serious the opioid issue is in central Illinois. 

"Drug addiction is devastating our communities and affecting people at every age and income level," he said. "Drugs are killing more of our neighbors than firearms and auto accidents combined. It is clear to me that it will take a significant investment of public and private resources to stop the trajectory of addiction rates, and it will take a comprehensive approach to reverse current trends and heal communities." 

Information from the Illinois Department of Public Health shows a 48.8 percent rise in drug overdose deaths, along with a 76.2 percent spike in opioid deaths, from 2013 to 2016 in the state. 

People who need the facilities will have access to what the Foundation calls "quality of life" benefits, which will include everything from a clinic and cafeteria to a computer training lab, a movie theater, three-quarter mile walking path and other features. It says treatment options will be available to people "regardless of their ability to pay".

Baby TALK will move its center of operations to the complex. Northeast Community Fund also plans to do business at the complex. 

A press release from the Foundation says Macon County has a serious shortage of rehabilitation beds, with people on Medicaid sometimes waiting weeks for help. It says only 16 licensed beds are available in Macon County in August, compared to more than 90 in Sangamon County. The residential rehabilitation building and transitional housing building will have a combined 112 beds. 

Buffett said the idea is for people to feel good while they are getting better. He said we want them to feel like human beings while they are at the complex.

"I've witnessed there are no boundaries for drug addiction," Buffett added.  "Drugs steal dreams." 

He said to the crowd gathered for the announcement that if he asked people to raise their hands if others they know are affected by drug addiction, nearly half of them would do it.

Construction efforts will be led by the Romano Company. It will be completed in 18 to 24 months. 

Extensive details on the project can be found in the PDF document below. 

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