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Federal grant will allow for establishment of virtual recovery center

December 7, 2011
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Centerstone initiative will build on recovery-oriented system of care

A vision that transformed a non-medical detox facility operated by Indiana treatment organization Centerstone into a recovery engagement center is now being expanded further to help individuals who can’t easily get to the center location. An $840,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will allow Centerstone to assist 150 individuals through an online recovery-oriented system of care.

“The idea is to bring recovery to them, as opposed to someone coming to us to try to find recovery,” says Linda Grove-Paul, Centerstone’s director of addiction and forensic services. “Who we’re targeting are the people who would normally slip through the cracks.”

Centerstone, with operations in Indiana and Tennessee, is one of the largest and most nationally prominent nonprofit behavioral health provider organizations. Its Centerstone Research Institute was one of 29 recipients of grants under a $25 million SAMHSA initiative to expand the use of health information technology, particularly on behalf of individuals in remote communities.

Grove-Paul explains that changes in Indiana Medicaid policies originally fueled the move toward converting a 15-bed non-medical detox facility in Bloomington into a community center to help individuals build recovery capital. In the aftermath of learning that the state no longer sought to pay for the partial-hospitalization level of care employed in the Bloomington facility, Centerstone closed the operation in July 2010 and began to engage community partners with an eye toward a different kind of facility.

The location would reopen as a community center staffed by recovery coaches, able to assist individuals coming from the justice system or the community in receiving the supports they needed in areas such as housing and government benefits. The center has seen more than 3,500 walk-ins over the past month, says Grove-Paul.

“We’ve managed to create a phenomenal environment in Bloomington,” she says, and a second recovery engagement center in the state has opened (with a third on the horizon).

The online initiative, which is expected to launch Feb. 1, will target individuals who cannot easily make it to a recovery center location. The virtual recovery-oriented system of care will allow individuals to manage their recovery through online support groups, blogs and text messages, although Centerstone will start the effort for each client by establishing a direct relationship with a recovery coach.

Grove-Paul says that although the budget for the grant does not include funds to equip participants with computers, Centerstone already has begun to receive some computer donations to assist in its effort. Also, while only about 5% of the initiative’s target population has access to smartphone technology, about 75% own a phone with texting capability, she says.

Fifty individuals a year over three years will be enrolled through an online portal; Centerstone currently has a request for proposals out for a technology vendor for the project.

Grove-Paul says she has prioritized establishing the organization’s standards for what a recovery-oriented system of care should feature, given that this concept appears to be taking hold nationally. “I really wanted to come up with the model for Indiana,” she says. “My thought was that if I don’t experiment, someone else is going to give me a model that I might not like.”