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Shady Acres #039;not detrimental#039;

Shady Acres Residential Care Home, Inc., the private, non-profit organization offering a structured environment for mental health patients is not "detrimental" to the Straughn community, according to Dr. Lavon Odom, the owner and operator.

"I would never ever bring anything into a community that I thought would be detrimental to the safety and well-being of the citizens in that community," said Odom.

The care home is opened for business October 12, when they held an open house for the public to attend.

The home is 3.5 miles from Straughn School and a considerable distance from the day care, Odom said, referring to concerns raised by Straughn residents who are seeking to stop the center with a petition..

Odom said the home is open to both sexes from 18 to 64 years old as the standard set by the Alabama Department of Mental Health for a basic residential care home.

He said there is a strict application process that collects medical history, psychiatric history and criminal background. The application includes satisfactory references based on character, habits and disposition and bearing physician certification at the time of entrance that the applicant has no contagious or infectious diseases. The applications are reviewed by an admissions committee consisting of Odom, the associate executive director, the clinical manager, who is a registered nurse, and the associate clinical manager, who is also a registered nurse.

"There is a strict screening before we will take any people into this home," said Odom. "We're not going to take anybody into this home that we feel we are not capable of taking care of."

The people coming to the home will be there on a voluntary basis.

There is no fixed cost for admission to the home, but those financially able to pay for their care will be expected to do so as determined by the Board of Directors. Admission will be a matter of negotiation, mutual agreement, and will be considered on its merit. The administration of the home has the authority to apply for assistance or financial help if a member of the home does not have enough money to pay for their care. If the member of the home has no funds, the committee on admissions will determine how much will be provided to the member.

The admissions committee has the authority to discharge any resident if two-thirds of the members who are present at the meeting deem that the resident is not in the best interest of maintaining the home and the proper atmosphere for the other residents.

The home will meet federal and state laws and the Alabama Department of Mental Health standards. The staff will provide persons with basic needs, a comfortable sleeping area, private bathrooms, three balanced meals, rooms for smoking and non-smoking, a visiting room, laundry room and recreational room. There will be transportation for the patients in emergencies as well as leisure time. The home will be staffed 24 hours a day by licensed professionals trained in the mental health field.

There are separate living quarters for men and women with bathrooms and a kitchen for each area.

Odom and his wife Carlina and Noah Ard and his wife Rebekah have been researching and planning the home for two years.

Odom said that the application filled out for state certification was returned because it was incomplete. They had not been opened yet and were not already providing a service. The home has to be visited by the Alabama Department of Mental Health after the home is in operation to see the services provided and that the home complies with their standards for a residential care home.

According to Odom, the only reason to be certified would be if they had a contract with the Department of Mental Health.

The staff educate the residents of the home about their medications, make sure that they take it and are stabilized.

Odom is a native of the Straughn area, was educated at Straughn School, went to L.B.W.

for associate degree, then to Troy State for a B.A. in nursing, and then to Auburn for his Masters in Community Health and a Doctorate in Health Services Management.

For more information about Shady Acres or to join the Volunteer Program call 334-496-3554.