Fellowship Hall grows to fight addiction

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — When it opened its residential addiction-treatment program in 1971, Fellowship Hall in Greensboro became the first specialty alcohol-and-drug-treatment hospital in North Carolina to receive a license from the state Department of Mental Health.

And this year, after adding 12 beds for a new extended-treatment program, the nonprofit became the first agency in the state to receive a license for extended treatment of recovering addicts and alcoholics.

Now, as it continues to face rising demand for its services, particularly because people in recovery often face multiple issues ranging from depression to physical or sexual abuse or trauma, Fellowship Hall is expanding its services and partnerships to better address those needs.

“We need to look at expansion of our continuum of care,” says Rodney Battles, the agency’s president.

Founded by a group of local business executives who were recovering alcoholics, the agency has served over 23,000 guests in what is now a 72-bed facility that occupies seven buildings on a 120-acre campus in north Greensboro.

Fellowship Hall operates with an annual budget of $7 million and a staff of about 120 employees, with 40 of them hired in the past 16 months.

Fueling that expansion was the need to add an extended-treatment program to address patients’ longer-term needs for recovery.

The agency traditionally has included a 60-bed residential in-patient facility that serves 800 to 900 individuals a year, typically for three to four weeks each, along with intensive out-patient services that serve 150 to 200 individuals a year, typically for four to six weeks each.

The new extended-treatment program is designed to serve patients facing multiple issues in their recovery, with patients expected to stay for 90 days.

Fellowship Hall this year also launched a regular out-patient service that provides ongoing support for individuals the agency has discharged from its system.

That new service is expected to grow to the extent that the agency would undertake a capital campaign that could begin in 2013 to raise money to build a new facility to house it, Battles says.

Fellowship Hall also offers a program that provides services four days a week for family members of patients in treatment, or about 500 to 600 family members a year.

To finance the new extended-treatment program, the agency tapped about $200,000  from its $15 million endowment to renovate two facilities – one for men, the other for women – it already owned on its campus.

Fellowship Hall undertook that effort in the wake of a $3 million renovation three years ago to its main residential facility and an addition that added 16 beds. Contributions from individuals and corporate donors financed roughly a third of the cost of that expansion.

Generating 75 percent of its operating funds from insurance, patient payments and fees, and 25 percent from contributions from corporations, individuals and foundations, Fellowship Hall raises about $50,000 to $60,000 a year through its annual fund.

That includes an annual golf tournament, held in conjunction with an annual conference at Bryan Park, that will take place August 3 and raises about $35,000.

Murphy Sullivan, who joined Fellowship Hall in March as director of development and community relations after serving as vice president for government affairs at the Charlotte Chamber, will be working to raise awareness about the agency.

Fellowship Hall, which partners with the medical schools at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill to train psychiatric residents in addiction medicine, also aims to work with the two schools to create a post-doctoral fellowship program in addiction medicine.

“Fellowship Hall started out as a mission-driven organization,” Battles says. “That singleness of purpose has been a major key to its growth.”

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