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Agencies collaborate to help addicts


Monday, December 5, 2016

By Peter H. Milliken


Mental health and substance-abuse recovery agencies are collaborating here to help people recover from opioid addiction.

Turning Point Counseling Services Inc., the Neil Kennedy Recovery Center and Meridian HealthCare have launched a partnership to ensure access to detoxification, which typically takes seven to 10 days, and to ongoing treatment thereafter.

To supplement 16 heroin detox beds at Neil Kennedy, Turning Point opened 16 beds of its own for this purpose in October to increase treatment availability, said Brian Kennedy, Turning Point executive director.

These local beds are among some 200 inpatient heroin detox beds statewide.

“We have gone through a significant amount of staff collaboration and a lot of professional staff interaction with Neil Kennedy to provide us this new capability to do inpatient detoxification for a myriad of different drugs,” at Turning Point, Brian Kennedy said.

“They’re at capacity. ... Their waiting list can be sometimes three to four weeks to get individuals into detoxification,” Turning Point’s director said of the Neil Kennedy facility, as he explained why he believes the new detox beds are needed at Turning Point.

“Sometimes, that three weeks equates to death,” he said.

Turning Point now has no detox waiting list, Brian Kennedy said.

“We have an unmet need population,” many of whom are dying of drug overdoses, said Carolyn Givens, NKRC’s executive director.

“We reached out to Turning Point, a natural partner to us,” in an effort “to save peoples’ lives,” she added.

The interagency collaboration is about “leveraging the strength of professionals that are committed to the whole health of a person,” she added. “Neil Kennedy’s been very strong in the recovery aspect and the rehab aspect. Turning Point has a crisis unit and has been very strong in behavioral health. They also have an inpatient, in-house pharmacy that is wonderful for detox. We have access to meds immediately,” said Dr. Joseph P. Sitarik, NKRC’s medical director.

Funding sources for treatment here include the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board, Medicaid and private insurance.

“‘I don’t have any money’ is not an excuse to not come to detox. We’ll find a way to get you through detox,” Brian Kennedy said.

In keeping with this partnership, Kennedy announced his agency is hanging its name from Turning Point Counseling Services Inc. to Turning Point Counseling and Recovery.