For more than 32 years, Father Martin’s Ashley has provided residential addiction treatment services at its facility in Havre de Grace, Md., but now the treatment center has partnered with the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UM UCH) to provide an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for treating substance use disorders in Harford County and the surrounding area.
Located in Bel Air at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s Klein Ambulatory Care Center, the Ashley Outpatient Treatment Program is the first collaboration of its kind by the two healthcare organizations.
“What we wanted to do was provide access to flexible, proven, evidence-based treatment to a community currently in crisis. Patients and their families were really asking for additional services to help, strengthen and maintain their recoveries,” says Mariana Izraelson, PsyD, LCADC, program director of outpatient services.
Izraelson adds that Father Martin's was seeing a significant portion of emergency department visits that were attributed to drug misuse and abuse in the community. In fact, she says, rates have more than doubled between 2004 and 2011.
“In the ER, we see that 32% of emergency department visits involve an opioid or a benzodiazepine prescription misuse, and most suffer from multiple problems in addition to presenting with substance use disorder,” she says. “We thought, 'What else can we do'? We have all this experience and bring so many years of service.”
For this reason, Izraelson says it was very important to be located in the health center in order to provide a holistic approach to care for clients. The program accepts referrals via phone, fax, and walk-in.
“For example, a client will present in the emergency department with substance use disorder as the clear reason for the visit, and the client will be walked in directly to us,” she says.
Before opening the program, which is staffed and operated entirely by Father Martin’s Ashley, Izraelson conducted presentations across all departments at Upper Chesapeake Hospital and Harford Memorial Hospital and developed an internal referral form as well as a release of information form for clients to sign.
Another consideration for developing the IOP was the fact that Father Martin’s Ashley also wanted to serve a larger segment of the community, including those on public support, such as Medicaid, who don’t have benefits for inpatient substance use treatment. Expanding was also necessary for staying afloat in the changing, competitive treatment industry.
“The research shows that for substance use disorders, an intensive program really is the most effective way to go,” says Izraelson. “We will do coordination of care. We will work with all providers. If a provider refers to us, we will make sure our clients continue to see that provider while they’re in treatment with us and we will discharge the client back to that provider.”
Leaders of the Ashley Outpatient Treatment Program say it provides all the benefits of inpatient detoxification but in a more cost-effective and less restrictive environment. In addition to offering detox for benzodiazepines, alcohol and opioids, it provides cognitive behavioral therapy-based intensive group therapy four times a week, Monday through Thursday, three hours per day. The program also offers medication-assisted therapy, including buprenorphine and naltrexone.
The community has already responded very well to the program, Izraelson says. In only the first week, seven clients have enrolled.