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Cumberland Heights sees steady growth of continuum in its golden anniversary year

February 26, 2016
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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By the time Cumberland Heights proceeds halfway through its golden anniversary year, it will have opened its 10th intensive outpatient program (IOP), all located in its home state of Tennessee and each seeking to respond to the evolving needs of its patient population.

“It's not our goal to plant a flag in other metropolitan areas around the country,” says Cumberland Heights CEO Jay Crosson. “We want to be convenient to where our patients live. Seventy percent of our admissions are Tennessee residents.”

The nonprofit Cumberland Heights has a series of events planned for its 50th anniversary year, having decided not to build its commemoration around one signature event. In May it will open an IOP in Music Row in Nashville, which at that time will become its 10th such program. With Nashville having become something of an “in city” in recent years, says Crosson, the Music Row location will be convenient to downtown-living professionals, students from nearby Belmont and Vanderbilt universities, and members of the music industry.

While Crosson emphasizes the importance of comprehensive outpatient programming to meet the lifestyle needs of these individuals, he also laments a broader trend in the industry of seeing new players emphasizing outpatient treatment with sober living and drug monitoring as profit centers. “That saddens me a little bit,” he says. “For the first time, people are looking at [the field] as a profit maker.”

Soaring demand

Crosson does not see the outpatient component of his organization as eventually supplanting the need for detox and residential services. “Our demand for inpatient care is as high as it's ever been,” he says, with Cumberland Heights having hit a record census this month on Feb. 2.

“This is a chronic, progressive illness,” Crosson adds. “We need people engaged in treatment as long as possible. Even if they have had 30 days in a residential progream, for many people that's not enough.”

He says that around half of Cumberland Heights' IOP patients have gone through the organization's residential program, while the other half are direct admissions. “Some of those may have gone through a local hospital, or a dual-diagnosis hospiutal program,” he says. “We send mobile assessors to those locations.”

Like many other organizations around the country, Cumberland Heights is seeing significant growth in demand from young adults hit by the opioid crisis. An organization that began in the 1960s as a program for male alcoholics now serves only about 40% primary alcohol users in its patient population's makeup. It has developed tailored programming for young-adult males ages 18 to 25 and is working on similar efforts for young women, Crosson says.

Other commemorations

Also as part of its 50th anniversary, Cumberland Heights is growing the “Recover Life” communications campaign that it launched last year, first featuring program staffers holding sober coins to mark their time in recovery. The campaign is now broadening to feature alumni and family members of patients.

“Our best referents are our alumni,” says Crosson. A longtime motto that has governed operations in the facility is “Take care of the patient, and the patient will take care of you,” he says.

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