River Edge plans to build new inpatient center to help with mental health, addiction

River Edge facility in west Bibb County on Fulton Mill Road.
River Edge facility in west Bibb County on Fulton Mill Road. bcabell@macon.com

For over 20 years, mental health patients from across Georgia have come to the River Edge Recovery Center on Fulton Mill Road for inpatient treatment.

But after decades of wear and tear on a building constructed in 1970, River Edge plans to build a new facility to better serve its patients.

“This will provide a state-of-the-art facility for people to go for their mental health needs or addiction recovery needs,” said Macey Kilgore, director of advancement for the River Edge Foundation. “Not only for Macon-Bibb and not only for Central Georgia, but this is a critical resource needed for Georgia.”

The River Edge Recovery Center is an acute inpatient treatment center, which offers crisis stabilization treatments for children and adults who are in danger of hurting themselves or others. It also offers clinical detoxification treatment for patients battling substance abuse.

“This is a place where people go to begin their first steps of recovery, whether that be from a mental health issue or an addiction need,” Kilgore said.

In addition to more up-to-date sleeping and activity quarters, the new facility will include more comfortable spaces for children and adolescent patients, such as a therapeutic outdoor playground, classrooms and a soothing center for patients with autism and other sensitivity conditions.

The River Edge Foundation, a nonprofit organization that philanthropically supports River Edge, started reaching out to donors to fund the $8.991 million construction project at the end of 2016. This year, the foundation publicly launched its fundraising campaign, the River Edge Recovery Center Campaign, and it has raised 76 percent of its goal so far.

Over the past two years, the River Edge Foundation has received $4.3 million in funding in Macon-Bibb County special local option sales tax funds for the project, and the rest has come from foundations and private donors, Kilgore said. In June, the foundation received a $500,000 grant from the Peyton Anderson Foundation, which funds organizations and initiatives that give back to Macon and Middle Georgia.

“We’ve been aware of River Edge for a long time,” said Karen Lambert, president and CEO of the foundation. “We are obviously very interested in this community. The whole mission is to improve the community, and River Edge is a significant piece of that.”

Securing the grant from the Peyton Anderson Foundation involved more than just paperwork, Kilgore said. She and her team also built a relationship with Lambert.

During the application process, Lambert visited the current facility, so that she could see the conditions firsthand.

“Clearly, they were in severe need of a better facility — a larger facility, one that’s laid out with, you know, the needs of this sort of program in mind,” Lambert said. “Never mind the fact that there are so few in Georgia that treat children, and this one does. ...

“A new one will serve River Edge. It will serve our community — our bigger community — and we’re happy as they’ve gone about their fundraising in a very smart way.”

Once the foundation reaches its fundraising goal, construction is expected to take about 24 months, Kilgore said. She expects the new facility to open some time in 2021.

In fiscal 2016, the River Edge Recovery Center served 1,778 youth and adults from 104 of Georgia’s 159 counties. Treatment at the center typically lasts for just seven to 14 days, but Kilgore said patients’ time there marks the beginning of a long-term treatment plan.

“At River Edge, we say, if it’s not you, it’s someone you love,” Kilgore said. “Everyone knows someone or has someone that is affected by mental health or addiction.”

Samantha Max is a Report for America corps member and reports for The Telegraph with support from the News/CoLab at Arizona State University. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/samantha.max.9 and on Twitter @samanthaellimax. Learn more about Report for America at www.reportforamerica.org.