MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A local veterans group fighting to open a substance detox and residential treatment facility here in Mobile has won approval from the state to adjust the state health plan, a win in the path to opening the facility.

Tuesday morning a group of people from Mobile in support of the Veterans Recovery Resources drove up to Montgomery to argue their case in front of the state health coordinating council. 

In August, the state denied Veterans Recovery Resources a certificate of need. The state cited the state health plan did not provide a need for new substance abuse beds. There are more than 800 beds in the state. The state health plan says there needs to be 458 beds in the state. But, the executive director and founder of Veterans Recovery Resources says there is still an overwhelming need for beds.

“Unfortunately, we have an average of 550 to 740 people on a waiting list to get into those 800 beds, which are 350 more than we need according to the state health plan,” said John Kilpatrick, the founder and executive director of Veterans Recovery Resources.

Tuesday, the council approved Veterans Recovery Resources’ request to adjust the state health plan, adding 34 residential beds to the state health plan for Mobile County. Now, the organization will need to resubmit their application for the certificate of need, which they need to be able to open their doors.

The facility they plan to build will be right next door to their current outpatient facility on Springhill Avenue. They are ‘ready to go’ on renovations to the old Raphael Semmes School. Their plan would be to renovate that building to accommodate a total of 34 beds in the facility.

“This facility that we’re trying to build will have 24-hour, 7-day a week emergency detox right next door,” said Kilpatrick.

Eight of the beds will be for clinically monitored detox, 16 beds will be for residential treatment, and about 10 beds will be used for supervised respite care for veterans transitioning from homelessness and waiting for residential treatment.

Kilpatrick says they had a great show of support from Mobile County, a bus of supporters drove up with them to Montgomery this morning. They also received letters of support ahead of the meeting Tuesday from the Mobile City Council, Mobile County Commission, Alabama Department of Mental Health, and the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs.