Michigan Detox Build Moves Forward Amid Pandemic

By Eric Althoff

MUSKEGON, Mich.—After a state-mandated pause in construction activity decreed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Witmer earlier this year in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, work has once again resumed on a new detoxification facility in western Michigan, to be located adjacent to the existing Muskegon Rescue Mission Men’s Shelter.

According to Michigan Live, Catholic Charities of West Michigan had started on the buildout of the 14-bed detox project at 1713 7th St. in the Nelson area of Muskegon in February, but then when Gov. Whitmer declared a major health emergency in March, construction had to be suspended on the 21,000-square-foot facility, which was meant to replace the charitable organization’s original building nearby.

Michigan Live reports that work on the main building was suspended at that time, but construction on the adjacent 4,700-square-foot detox center—which will house operations to help people dealing with drug and alcohol dependency—was allowed to continue as it was deemed to be essential work within the state at the time of the shutdown.

Work on the main building, which will likely serve nearly a thousand people per year, was allowed to resume at the end of May. According to Michigan Live, when completed, the rehabilitation facility will be named in honor of Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish holy man who voluntarily traded places in death with a complete stranger at Auschwitz. Since perishing in the Holocaust, Kolbe has since come to be recognized as the patron saint of addiction. He was canonized in 1982 by Pope John Paul II.

Addiction is an ongoing problem in Muskegon County, which presents a serious problem for public health officials. Earlier reporting from Michigan Live found that the county is 8th highest in the entire country in terms of hospitalizations for opioid use.

The site’s report said that the new facility will offer services for patients that include counseling, adoption services, senior services and areas specifically devoted to toddlers and baby feeding. Feeding the young and the not so young has been a staple of the Catholic organization’s mission, and it is believed that the delivery of food will continue thanks to a food pantry that will remain nearby to the new addiction treatment center. (Indeed, food insecurity has become an even graver issue as the coronavirus pandemic has interrupted supply chains.)

Catholic Charities of West Michigan acquired the land for the new treatment facility in a “land swap” with the city of Muskegon, Michigan Live reported, which was approved by the city commission last fall.

The detox facility is expected to open by October, according to Michigan Live, with the “primary” building at the site likely to debut in the first part of 2021.

Several messages to Catholic Charities requesting comment on the project were not returned.