News

Restoring Lives & Renewing Hope

03/19/2024

When community members founded a 24-hour crisis center for heroin users and troubled teens in 1970, it was led by volunteers who served clients coming in off the street, fielded telephone calls from people asking questions about addiction, and made house calls to people in need. That bare-bones operation evolved into what is now known as SouthLight Healthcare. Five decades later, we continue to meet the needs of Wake County residents who need help addressing mental health and substance use.

What sets SouthLight apart? First, we are as equipped to treat clients struggling with addiction as we are to treat clients diagnosed with mental illness. Most clients are diagnosed with both. Second, we meet clients where they are emotionally, financially, mentally, and physically. Most clients qualify as low-income, and nearly half are uninsured. We turn no one away, regardless of their ability to pay. Third, we help clients fulfill their basic needs—from housing to employment; when clients are less worried about the basics, they are more likely to focus on long-term recovery.

We meet clients where they are emotionally, financially, mentally, and physically.

Most of SouthLight’s 180 employees are medical providers, clinicians, or professionals who work directly with clients. We serve clients year-round at five service sites—four in Wake County and one in Durham—through individual counseling, group therapy, psychiatry, and medication-assisted treatment. New clients are paired with “peers” who are in long-term recovery from addiction or mental health themselves. We also deploy “community-based” teams to work with indigent clients who are diagnosed with severe mental illness.

We help clients fulfill their basic needs–from housing to employment; when clients are less worried about the basics, they are more likely to focus on long-term recovery.

SouthLight’s Approach and Partners

Our approach makes a significant impact. Today, we serve about 7,500 individuals annually. Some are referred from hospitals, some learn about us through family or friends, and others are referred by law enforcement. Regardless of where they come from, the goal is to treat them as quickly as possible.

Our partners in this effort are numerous. We collaborate with the county and the city to keep residents out of the justice system by getting them into treatment. We work with the state to ensure mothers or pregnant women with addiction issues can stay with their families when they’re getting help. We partner with the school system to educate adolescents on substance use. Local community groups such as StepUp Ministry, A Place at the Table, Oak City Cares, and ACORNS are essential partners, too.

Despite all this help for our struggling neighbors, the need for our services is growing. Fentanyl is everywhere. Deaths related to drug overdoses and alcohol have spiked. The pandemic accelerated negative trends in mental health. With nowhere to turn for help, Wake County residents battling addiction and mental illness cycle in and out of hospitals and local jails.

Renovating our Outpatient Treatment Center to Better Serve our Clients

Turning SouthLight’s South Raleigh location into an innovative, client-centered facility will have a huge return on investment.

When SouthLight opened a dialogue about how to better serve our clients and our community, a common refrain was the need to renovate our outpatient treatment center on Garner Road. The facility is our busiest with roughly 700 clients visiting for treatment per day. Originally a strip mall, the floor plan remained largely the same as when we purchased it three decades ago: eight suites, a maze of hallways, and an inefficient use of space.

Turning it into an innovative, client-centered facility will have a huge return on investment. More space for group counseling and staff training, rooms outfitted for telehealth services, new work and meeting spaces for staff members, a safe and secure central reception area where clients can check in for appointments, a resource center where clients can drop in for a cup of coffee or get help signing up for Medicaid, and an on-site pharmacy where all clients and staff can fill prescriptions.

We are excited White Memorial Presbyterian Church chose to invest in this important project. Long-time SouthLight Board member and WMPC member John Crumpler echoes that sentiment. “I am thrilled to see what we will accomplish together,” he shared. John is one of many WMPC members to have served on our Board. Plenty have volunteered, too. Carl and Susan Hibbert “enjoy the opportunity to connect on a human level with the people SouthLight serves” while volunteering. WMPC volunteers regularly assemble hygiene kits and snack packs for SouthLight clients. SouthLight has benefited from WMPC grant funding for years.

By selecting SouthLight as its Major Mission Partner, White Memorial is building on a strong relationship. As excited as we are about being involved in what you have built on Oberlin Road, we are even more excited to build something special with you.

Jim Dempsey

Jim Dempsey Director of Development at SouthLight Healthcare