Serenity Hills Life Center in Wheeling Opens to the Community
WHEELING — An addiction recovery center for women in the Ohio Valley and across West Virginia officially has opened near Wheeling.
The Serenity Hills Life Center held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday attended by staff, local officials and area residents at its state-of-the-art facility on 149 acres of land by Clearview.
“I’m telling you, I have the greatest team on the face of the earth,” Serenity Hills CEO and President Sharon Travis said before a crowd of about 40 people at the ceremony. “When (residents) come in here to be a patient, they’re going to be moved by all the love and caring that we will offer them.”
The center, the largest of its kind in West Virginia, will open its doors Monday to women in various stages of recovery from drug addiction and offer long-term care through a “step-down” program, Travis said.
The center’s campus includes a 46,000-square-foot main facility with 72 beds, a separate house for pregnant women with 10 beds and halfway house for those transitioning out of recovery.
“I welcome everybody to the residential center that’s going to change many lives and save many lives,” Clinical Director John Antal said at the start of the event.
The center was made possible through a $3 million grant from the state Department of Health and Human Resources and a $2.9 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The DHHR funding was supported by the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund, passed by the state legislature in 2017 to increase the number of treatment beds. The fund is named for Ryan Brown, a Charleston man who died from a heroin overdose in 2014.
Brown’s parents, Cece and Bobby Brown, pushed for the creation of the fund to help people suffering from addiction, and the two were in attendance at Friday’s event.
“I really thank you for your commitment to bring a place like this together. This is a mecca for treatment,” Cece said. “It’s exciting for me and my husband both to be able to see it. It’s just amazing.
State Delegate Erikka Storch, fighting tears, thanked the Brown family for their efforts in pushing for the passage of the bill that established the fund.
“When (the Browns) first came to the legislature, I don’t know how couldn’t have a heart to want to help them,” Storch said. “This is a critical first step. … We have to embrace and support everybody in our community.”
The audience also heard a statement from Sen. Joe Manchin given by his office’s regional coordinator, Mary Jo Guidi.
“I am truly grateful for this facility,” the statement read. “The drug abuse epidemic has ravaged the entire nation, including our home state, and many families are in desperate need of hope and encouragement. I sincerely thank the members of this service for providing hope to those in recovery.”
Beth Morrison, program director for the state Bureau of Behavioral Health and Health Facilities, thanked the Serenity Hills staff for their work. Friday happened to be her last day before retirement, and she remarked that she began her career in Wheeling 40 years ago.
“The sense of urgency is greater now and the resources are greater. This is an example of trying to make the very best use of resources that you have available,” Morrison said of the center. “It takes a village to build this kind of achievement.”
Wheeling City Councilwoman Wendy Scatterday expressed thanks to Travis and her staff on behalf of the city for making the facility a reality and overcoming obstacles.
“This place, this team is a collection and a journey that has been woven together in something greater than ourselves,” Scatterday said. “The fact that this glorious facility will live on to help folks in a new and different way, that is an amazing testimony that I can objectively see from the outside. So I come before you today in true gratefulness on behalf of the city of Wheeling and myself personally.”
At the conclusion of ceremony, attendees were able to meet with team members and participate in tours of the facilities.