• Rutland hospital signs deal for drug treatment
     | June 15,2013

    RUTLAND — Rutland Regional Medical Center has signed a contract with the state to run a multifaceted addiction treatment center in Rutland that will, among other things, provide methadone treatment to those addicted to heroin and other opiate-based drugs.

    Dubbed the West Ridge Center for Addiction Recovery, the new facility is scheduled to open in October at the Howe Center in Rutland.

    The new facility, which will offer counseling and case-management services in addition to medications like methadone and buprenorphine, is expected to serve 400 opiate-addicted Vermonters, primarily from Rutland and Bennington counties, hospital officials said in a statement released late Friday afternoon.

    The facility, which will be open seven days a week, 365 days a year, is expected to treat close to 300 people a day including the roughly 100 addicts presently traveling outside Rutland County on a daily basis to receive treatment.

    The facility was originally scheduled to open in October 2012 but that timetable fell apart when Rutland Mental Health Services failed to reach an agreement with the Vermont Department of Health due to financial concerns.

    Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen said Friday that despite the initial setbacks, talks with the hospital proceeded smoothly to open the clinic, which will receive significant state and Medicaid funding to renovate the building and cover uninsured patients.

    “This is very much a needed service in Rutland County,” Chen said Friday evening. “The whole thing took a long time but (RRMC) has been a great partner. Everyone wants to make it happen.”

    Among those pushing for the center have been Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras and city Police Chief James Baker. They have said it would both fill a hole in treatment coverage for addicts in need and help to reduce demand for opiates in an illegal drug market that has attracted a large number of out-of-state dealers.

    “I’m delighted that we have Rutland Regional Medical Center involved in this critical venture,” Louras said. “I have said all along that I support this facility, provided (clients) receive the wraparound services they have been promised to address the underlying conditions of addiction.”

    Baker said the center would also fill a void for the state’s local drug court, which for years has tried to rehabilitate drug offenders without the support of a local treatment center.

    “It’s a huge, vital piece of the strategy to get quality of life issues under control,” the chief said.

    Hospital officials said they worked with the Howard Center in Burlington to develop the new treatment center model and program. To operate the facility, the hospital will hire more than 20 staff, including therapists, substance abuse counselors, nurses, case managers, security officers and administrative personnel.

    Rutland hospital President Thomas Huebner said in the statement that providing services through the center was an extension of the hospital’s commitment to public health.

    “I believe this is a service that is critical to our area,” he said. “The program and treatment center will prove to be very beneficial not only for patients and their families but also for the community.”

    @Tagline:brent.curtis @rutlandherald.com

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