By Mary Freda
Meridian Health Services and its Addiction Recovery Center in Richmond, Indiana, addresses a growing demand for residential alcohol and drug recovery programs in East Central Indiana.
“Many really need some in-patient treatment for a while, at least that 28-day program to just get them away from the substances available to them, just to get out of that environment and try to get their heads around another way of living,” said Delaware County Circuit Court Judge Linda Wolf.
Meridian Addictions & Recovery Center provides 30 residential beds for adults 18 years and older. It has two units — one for men and one for women — with 15 beds each. The facility provides a multi-disciplinary approach for drug and alcohol treatment and offers medical detox, behavioral therapy, intensive rehabilitation, wellness education, recovery and post-treatment support.
Equally significant is that the state of Indiana received a federal Medicaid waiver and put in motion a payment system for addictions recovery treatment, said Gerry Cyranowski, regional vice president for Meridian Health Services.
“The state sees the bigger picture,” Cyranowski said. “The state looked at the opioid epidemic and said, ‘We cannot not have treatment for people who need treatment.’ Meridian had the expertise they needed and they had the facilities we needed.”
Meridian’s focus in the last year has been to get patients admitted faster and better prepared for life after rehabilitation.
For example, in the beginning the admissions process took days. Now, it can take as few as 30 minutes, said Nicole Whallon, practice manager at Meridian Health Service.
“We know that when people call us it’s taken a lot of courage to call and get that ball rolling,” Whallon said. “We want to catch them while they’re motivated for recovery. So, we try to get them in as soon as possible.”
The nation’s opioid crisis is a driving force for this kind of treatment, which has been out of reach for so many because of financial barriers. For a lot of people with addiction, by the time they get to the point of treatment they’ve lost their home, they’ve lost their job, they’ve lost their family. They don’t have resources.
At ARC, within the first 48 hours of being admitted, Whallon said patients see a nurse practitioner for a physical, who determines the next course of medical attention and whether the patient needs anything else, like dental care.
Once at the facility, patients are on a strict schedule. They wake up around 6 o’clock every morning and do morning chores. After that, Whallon says patients exercise, then go to meditation.
Whallon says patients usually attend recovery — or life-skills-based groups — throughout the day, stopping for meals in between. Around 9:30 or 10 p.m., patients get their nighttime medication, then go to bed.
“I think they need to re-discipline themselves and hold themselves accountable,” she said. “A lot of people who are in recovery, like newly in recovery, they don’t know what to do with themselves.”
Whallon said boredom can lead people to look for things to do, which can be a negative.
“We teach them there are things that you can do to get yourself in a routine. If you are used to doing something, then you’re going to be more successful, you’re going to feel more accomplished, you’re going to feel better about yourself,” she said.
The idea is once patients leave, they’ll be able to stick to the routines they’ve formed while in rehab, which is typically a 21-day stay, Whallon said.
According to American Addiction Centers, 90-percent of those who need drug rehabilitation the most, don’t get it. And those who do, often don’t get follow-up care from their treatment center. Meridian is trying to change that.
Before patients leave the Meridian treatment center, Whallon says they meet with a newly hired, full-time discharge planner, who helps patients plan life outside the program.
“it will be a continuum of care even after they leave,” she said.
About seven months ago, the center started tracking patient outcomes from through MyOutcomes, said Anthony Lathery, division director of adult and addiction services at Meridian.
Those results, he said, have shown high patient satisfaction and treatment efficacy.
Whallon and Lathery said there are no plans to expand the Richmond facility, but Meridian is opening new facilities elsewhere in Indiana. Its newest facility opened in November 2018 in West Lafayette, Indiana.