According to addictioncenter.com, almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10 percent of them receive treatment. Drug overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1990, and from 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 Americans died from overdosing on a drug—costing the U.S. economy over $600 billion every year.
Considering such statistics, it is vitally important to have a facility that can provide a singular place for a full continuum of care services. Mountaineer Recovery Center, targeted to open in September 2019, will be the first in the state of West Virginia to provide this level of treatment, according to someone’s needs all in one place.
The Center’s opening represents an exciting development for the Eastern Panhandle and all of West Virginia. The opening of this 48-bed residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment facility will coincide with National Recovery Awareness month. As a patient’s needs change, the level of services can change, but their providers and location of care are sustained in one place.
Jonathan M. Hartiens, Ph.D., Clinical Director at Mountaineer Behavioral Health, explained the many forms of treatment that will be provided at the Center.
“This will be a significant enhancement in access to care, as current delivery systems are limited in the range of services they can provide, such as only outpatient counseling, or medication-assisted treatment,” he said. “The recovery center will provide residential services, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, family services, and aftercare—as well as offer medical, psychiatric, and medication-assisted treatment.”
Mountaineer Recovery Center is the newest expansion of Mountaineer Behavioral Health, PLLC. Mountaineer began in 2016, developed by Hartiens, a clinical psychologist with 25 years working in substance-abuse treatment. Hartiens trained initially in the U.S. Navy, running substance-abuse clinics in the U.S. and Europe before he worked for ten years at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center. He was the program director of the Center for Addiction Treatment, and wrote several federally funded grants that expanded the provision of substance abuse services for veterans in rural areas. Since leaving the VA, Hartiens started two practices—Christian Psychological Services and then Mountaineer Behavioral Health.
Reducing the Toll
In 2018, Hartiens wrote a grant request and was awarded $3 million from the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Ryan Brown Grant fund. The fund was set aside by the West Virginia legislature in 2017 to increase the number of residential beds available for substance-abuse treatment, with an emphasis on combating the opioid epidemic.
“Regretfully, West Virginia has led the nation in the number of opioid-related overdose deaths per capita for several years straight,” Hartiens stated. “The Centers for Disease Control recently reported WV leading the nation again in 2018, with fifty-seven deaths per hundred thousand people. The grant was one of many efforts the state legislature, governor’s office, and DHHR have initiated to reduce this devastating toll on West Virginia residents.”
After receiving the award, Hartiens established an advisory board of various community experts that helped guide the project, as well as enhanced community buy-in. This team helped Hartiens in selecting a property in Kearneysville (WV) on the Jefferson/Berkeley County line. The former IRS and Coast Guard data processing facility at 3094 Charles Town Road, comprising 30,000 square feet, was chosen so that the site would be associated with the Eastern Panhandle and not a specific county or city. The facility is equidistant between Jefferson and Berkeley medical centers.
Upon renovation completion, the cost of creating a state-of-the-art residential and outpatient facility will be about $114/square foot, which is less than half the cost of most other commercial construction projects in the Panhandle. The board affirmed contracting with architect George Harne and Minghini’s Contractors in Martinsburg. The teamwork and excellent communication have led to the project progressing efficiently with few delays in construction.
Hartiens shared, “Not only will the project reflect good stewardship with state grant funds, but it will also help the lives, families, and businesses of many in the Eastern Panhandle. On the health front, the opioid epidemic is causing the average life expectancy to decrease due to many young people who die from the disease.”
To that end, Families of WV has one of the highest foster-care placement rations in the county, and current DHHR workers report the West Virginia foster care system has been overrun due to the opioid epidemic.
In hopes of reducing this impact, the Mountaineer Recovery Center plans to partner with Child Protective Services (CPS) and DHHR to provide parenting classes for those in treatment, video-monitored parent-child visitation, and gradual and structured reconciliation while in treatment—with hopes of accelerating family reunification.
On the economic front, Dr. John Deskins, head of the WVU Department of Economics, called the opioid epidemic the single biggest economic inhibitor to the state. Treatment at the Mountaineer Recovery Center will include life skills development, where residents can learn through hands-on training, varied computer skills, resume writing, and money management. Both private and public agencies will be partnering with the Center to provide collaborative and community-connected care for the patients.
“The mission of the Mountaineer Recovery Center is ‘to empower recovery from the challenges and chains of addictive behavior.’ The Center intends to do this with over thirty staff on board providing services twenty-four hours a day,” noted Hartiens.
Hartiens’ first hire was Max Harrison, as the chief operations officer. Mr. Harrison came from Loudoun County, where he oversaw a multi-million-dollar budget operating programs in the Department of Social Services. He will oversee all daily operations and act as the primary community liaison. Once opened, it is the goal or vision of the Center to be “… the provider of choice by providing a full continuum of care committed to excellence, driven by compassion, and rooted in evidenced-based treatment.”
The Mountaineer Recovery Center will accept both Medicaid-based and private insurance, and will be seeking Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO), and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accreditation once opened. When the building is completed, a community-wide open-house will be scheduled for the public to tour the facility and meet the staff.
For more information, visit Mountaineer Recovery Center’s website or call 304-901-2070. Max Harrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.By Robin Murphy