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Two longtime providers partner on intensive services in Massachusetts

January 26, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A new treatment facility that the nonprofit Phoenix House's New England operation will open in Massachusetts next week speaks to several timely themes in the industry, including targeted response to the opioid crisis. Administrators at Phoenix House are making an extra effort to emphasize that their latest initiative also shows that longstanding organizations in the field can build on each other's strengths and grow while maintaining their identity, in a business environment that lately seems dominated by talk of mergers, new players, and mega-corporations.

“Our boards didn't look at this like it was a winner-take-all,” senior vice president Patrick McEneaney says of the discussions with The Gavin Foundation that led to this project. Phoenix House will provide the physician/nursing and back-office staff for Phoenix House Intensive Treatment Services, scheduled to open Feb. 2 in Quincy, Mass. The Boston-based Gavin Foundation will staff the other clinical positions, including licensed social workers and mental health counselors, at the 66-bed facility, where it is expected that around three-quarters of patients will have an opioid dependence.

The project grew out of a request for proposals from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for a facility to be located specifically in Quincy, a city near Boston that has been hit hard by the opioid crisis. Quincy residents will receive priority consideration for available treatment slots at Phoenix House Intensive Treatment Services.

Patients will be eligible to receive around four to six days of detox/acute withdrawal services and 15 days of residential-level “clinical stabilization,” from which they might transition to a residential or home environment depending on individual need.

“We've had this level of care in [Rhode Island] for a while,” says McEneaney. “This gives us an opportunity to be in a large urban market.”

He adds, “It is important that our industry know that it's not just people with access to capital and the capital markets that can make progress in this environment.”

Building on relationship

McEneaney says that this does not represent the first joint effort of Phoenix House and The Gavin Foundation, as the latter has served as the outpatient treatment arm for other Phoenix House facilities in Massachusetts.

The emergence of this program stems from former Gov. Deval Patrick's establishment of a task force to seek responses to the opioid problem. State legislators allocated $20 million toward the overall cause last year, says Neil Gaer, Phoenix House's director of clinical affairs in Massachusetts.

The administrators of the program will bill insurance, but the state Bureau of Substance Abuse Services essentially will serve as the payer of last resort for the facility's services, McEneaney explains. Phoenix House does serve within its patient population a good number of the scant overall percentage of Massachusetts residents who still do not have insurance coverage in a state that has progressed significantly toward universal coverage.

In the opioid-dependent population, some but not all of those who proceed through the clinically managed stabilization phase in the new program will receive an induction to medication-assisted treatment and be referred to an MAT provider in the community, says Gaer. “We'll be meeting the client where they're at,” he says.

Phoenix House New England was established in 1967 and became part of the national Phoenix House Foundation in 1999. The New England operation runs 39 programs in four states. The Gavin Foundation was founded in 1963 and provides community-based treatment, prevention and education services, focusing on recovery through relationships among individuals, families and communities.

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