Addiction treatment services shift in North Central WV - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Addiction treatment services shift in North Central WV

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Photo courtesy of United Summit Center Photo courtesy of United Summit Center
Photo courtesy of United Summit Center Photo courtesy of United Summit Center
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By CYNTHIA McCLOUD
For The State Journal

United Summit Center has shifted where it provides some of its addiction treatment services and has opened a new outpatient clinic in Preston County to treat both children and adults.

Headquartered in Clarksburg, USC is a comprehensive mental health center providing care to people in 12 counties in North-Central West Virginia.

Drug detox services are no longer offered at the John D. Good Recovery Center in Terra Alta, said USC CEO Robert Williams. Some of the 28 displaced workers have already found new jobs. Others who apply for positions at another USC location will be given top consideration. USC continues to operate an 18-bed residential drug abuse recovery program similar to a fellowship home at John D. Good.

"We've had an addiction program at Terra Alta in the old Hopemont Hospital for about nine years," Williams said. 

In the beginning, the detox program was funded by a grant that paid for 10 patients who had been involuntarily committed because they were addicted and had been judged during mental hygiene hearings to be a danger to themselves and others.

USC also opened a crisis stabilization unit on the same floor — 10 more beds for residential substance abuse treatment, combining detox and rehabilitation.

From 2003-2013, West Virginia began to experience a crisis in the overcrowding of beds in state psychiatric hospitals: William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston and Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital in Huntington. 

"Sharpe became full, all 150 beds, all the time," Williams said. "At Bateman, it was the same story."

To deal with the volume of involuntarily committed patients, the state began diverting patients to community hospitals that have psychiatric units.

"There are probably 15 community hospitals that have psych units throughout the state, so there's essentially a third state hospital out there floating around that any one day could have 100 committed patients," Williams said.

The total number of patients treated in John D. Good's two programs described above began to decrease.

In the past year, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin formed an Advisory Council on Substance Abuse and charged six regional task forces with finding the best ways to tackle West Virginia's substance abuse problem. USC recognized that the grant for the 10 involuntarily committed beds at John D. Good might be lost and the funds could be used to serve people in a more central location.

"The feeling, historically, for Region 4 is that John D. Good has done a good job, but detoxification services would be more accessible if they were more centrally located," Williams said. 

Region 4 spans from Terra Alta in the north to Braxton County in the south to Tucker County in the east and includes all counties in between, making the Bridgeport location the midpoint for patients in that region, he said.

USC requested the state divert the grant funding detox beds at John D. Good to the new Psychiatric Care Unit USC recently opened on the United Hospital Center campus. It has 16 beds that can be used for substance abuse detoxification and dual diagnosis (substance abuse and/or mental illness) treatment. 

"Additionally, this allows for a strong continuum of care. On the same campus is United Hospital Center's 17-bed inpatient behavioral health unit," Williams said. "One step below that is the Psychiatric Care Unit, which can do outpatient detoxification. The Bob Mays Treatment Unit can house up to 18 patients for a month when they're discharged from the Psychiatric Care Unit. 

"Bob Mays is located on the campus of United Summit Center and serves as a transitional facility for patients who are dually diagnosed and need a secure place to stay for a month until transitioning back to home and outpatient care."

USC has been providing in-school care for kids in crisis in Preston County for two years.

"Often the parents or schools wanted to be able to refer the children to a clinic where they could be seen for individual therapy," Williams said.

So USC got permission from the West Virginia Health Care Authority to open a clinic off W.Va. 7 in Kingwood near Walmart.

There, two master's-level therapists and a case manager work with a physician's assistant to see adults and children to provide therapy and medical supervision.

Right now those workers share a building with another business. Soon the building's owners plan to build a new medical building to house a larger clinic for USC.