By Rita Price, The Columbus Dispatch
Franklin County could soon have dozens more treatment beds available for the surging number of people who need to detox from heroin and other opioids.
Maryhaven is planning to open a 50-bed facility — one with the space to add even more — in the coming months, officials said. The location has not been disclosed, but it will be in an existing building, separate from the treatment center’s 32-bed main campus on the South Side.
Maryhaven President and CEO Shawn Holt said the Columbus area, like many others across the state, needs a dramatic expansion of services to reduce waiting lists for treatment beds and to help addicts before they give up on recovery.
“It’s big news, and we’re excited,” he said. “I believe that in order to really fight this epidemic, we need a 50-bed facility. We have beds here, and we give good treatment; we just don’t have enough.”
According to the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County, there are now about 104 detox beds at various sites in the county, and 283 longer-term residential beds.
But figuring out who offers such treatment isn’t easy, and the board so far hasn’t created a comprehensive treatment-resources list on its website. Its directory mostly includes agencies that are part of the ADAMH network or receive funding from the board, such as Maryhaven.
That leaves out other centers that also are providing detox and residential care.
“I made multiple attempts to reach out to them to have them include us in their resources so that people would know we’re here, and we were unsuccessful,” said Tom Dailey, executive director at Braking Point Recovery Center, a new 16-bed treatment center in Whitehall.
The for-profit center accepts Medicaid; some others accept only private health insurance. Maryhaven takes patients regardless of ability to pay.
Families and people struggling with addiction need to be aware of all options, Dailey said, noting that some other county boards make a point of listing all licensed agencies. “I don’t see this as a competitive business,” he said.
David Royer, CEO of the ADAMH board, agreed that Franklin County should have a resources portal or updated list.
“I really think what we have to do is, frankly, catch up a bit on some of that stuff,” said Royer, who was tapped by city and county leaders in March to lead a committee created to marshal the community’s anti-addiction resources and agencies to fight the heroin and opioid crisis.
“We’ve actually talked a little bit about a dedicated website,” he said. “Right now, it feels kind of fragmented.”
Royer is working closely with Maryhaven on the expansion project. Additional announcements of new efforts and initiatives are expected when he releases the committee’s community-action plan this summer.
In the meantime, Maryhaven also has made progress in reducing its wait times, whittling weeks-long lists down to days. “We’ve made major changes to assessment and intake,” said Holt, the agency chief. “We began conducting more frequent assessments, even on weekends.”
The agency has added to its staff and is scrutinizing the wait list to make sure everyone on it needs in-patient care. Those who do might not stay as long as in the past. The target for a typical stay is now 14 to 21 days instead of 21 to 30, said Andrew Moss, manager of medically assisted treatment at Maryhaven.
That change, while not always ideal, has helped unclog waiting lists as the agency manages crushing volume. Patients can and do stay longer if necessary, administrators said.
“You’ve got to look at it this way: Maryhaven wasn’t beating on my door; I was beating on theirs,” said 49-year-old Chuck Stanley as he neared the end of a month-long stay at Maryhaven. “I can’t waste this opportunity. Next time, there might not be a bed.”
Unlike the overwhelming majority of Maryhaven patients, Stanley is being treated primarily for alcoholism. Addiction is addiction, he said, but he especially worries about all the young people he sees who are ravaged by heroin and opioid abuse.
The more options and treatment beds available to them, the better, he said.
According to figures compiled by The Dispatch, at least 4,149 Ohioans died of unintentional drug overdoses last year. That’s up 36 percent from 2015, when Ohio easily led the nation in overdose deaths.
“It’s scary,” Stanley said. “You look at some of these kids and the life is just drained out of them.”