The center is being shut down because of budget cuts and lack of funding. The Smith Residential Treatment Facility provides long term care for people seeking help for substance abuse problems.
The center has previously operated as a detox program, but a year ago it expanded into a 29-bed residential facility where patients receive overnight extended care. Recovery experts say the long term treatment is important for substance abuse patients.
"Research shows part of recovery process needs time for brain and body to heal and even our statistics here show the longer residents stay, which can be up to a 100-day program, you can see changes in them as far as thinking, feelings, and behavior," Pat Meyers said.
The facility's parent hospital which subsidizes $700,000 a year for operations is shutting it down. They say there's not enough money to keep the old building up to code to support a residential facility.
Now patients will have to turn to other treatment centers for help, and that means either relocating to another county or seeking outpatient therapy only at the main hospital in Valdosta. The staff at the Smith facility has all been placed in other positions.
"Some employees have worked here for over nine years. They're the ones who will be especially sad when these doors are shut and locked for the last time."
"It's gonna be sad come the 23rd. We've been here a long time, some since the doors have opened. I hate to see it close," said Sheila Brannon.
The parent hospital, Smith Northview is discussing the possibility of donating the building to the city of Hahira. The Smith building in Hahira will soon be empty for the first time since 1943 when Dr. Raymond Smith founded it in the community.