Proposed Mass. addiction treatment center to have wing for first responders

The dedicated wing would include space to treat up to 50 first responders and include specialized care


Joe DiFazio
The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.

CANTON, Mass. — A Quincy-based addiction treatment company is looking to open a recovery facility in Canton that would include a specialized wing for first responders.

ARK Behavioral Health has proposed converting the shuttered Kindred-Tower Hill nursing home, nestled at the end of Getchell Way near the Randolph border, into an substance-use treatment facility that could help up to 160 people at a time through the first steps of recovery. The facility, to be named Bedrock Recovery Center, would be equipped to monitor patients through a week-long detox and into a month-or-so of residential treatment.

This former nursing home is the proposed site of a new addiction treatment facility in Canton, Mass. The treatment facility would include a specialized wing for first responders. (Photo/Greg Derr, The Patriot Ledger)
This former nursing home is the proposed site of a new addiction treatment facility in Canton, Mass. The treatment facility would include a specialized wing for first responders. (Photo/Greg Derr, The Patriot Ledger)

The project is currently before Canton's zoning board of appeals. ARK has filed for a special permit under the town's new by-laws that allow for substance abuse treatment facilities in areas of town zoned for industrial use. The new permit process was passed by town meeting voters earlier this year.

If approved, Bedrock would be located in corner of town cut off from the rest of Canton by Route 24. Bob Harnais, a lawyer for the project, said that some neighbors have expressed concern about traffic and security, but that ARK has plans in place for both. Patients would be transported on and off site by ARK and the company would create exit plans for all patients that leave Bedrock, even those that wish to end their treatment early, and have security on site, according to Rich McDonald, chief operations officer at ARK.

If the permit is granted and there is no appeal, McDonald said ARK hopes to have the facility opened by summer.

ARK's plan for Bedrock includes a dedicated space to treat about 40 to 50 first responders, including EMTs, firefighters, police officers, active military members and corrections officers. First responders, the company says, have long been under-served in New England for addiction treatment as the opioid crisis ravages towns across the Northeast.

"People come with different circumstances and it's our job to help them," McDonald said,

Chris Dorval, a clinical director with ARK and long-term recovering addict, said that treating first responders comes with its own unique set of challenges.

"One of the things we recognize is that (first responders) have a higher prevalence for substance use and trauma-related disorders, and that they are extremely undeserved," Dorval said. "There's a lot of shame and stigma already associated with addiction, but I think it's two-fold in the first-responder community. So we want a place that's specifically dedicated to them where the interacting in that community and have that connection."

Though the facility would have the capacity to treat up to 160 people, McDonald, a recovering addict himself, said they hope to treat an average of about 80 to 120 patients at any one time. Bedrock would be equipped to help patients with alcohol or drug abuse, and keep detox patients separated from those in residential treatment.

The recovery center would only serve people who voluntarily seek treatment, not those civilly committed to treatment under the state's Section 35 statute or court-ordered to treatment.

The facility would cost about $1,000 per day out of pocket if treatment was not covered by a patient's insurance. McDonald said industry-standard treatment costs between $1,000 and $4,000 per day for in-patient recovery care.

Bedrock would have one nurse per 16 patients, but staffing overall would be closer to one staff member person per four patients, according to Dorval.

Dorval said that programming for first responders would be similar to other patients, but would include a better understanding of their work culture and the steps required to get them back to work. Firefighters, for example, who work 24-hour shifts and are off for days at a time, require different recovery tactics than a person who works a normal 40-hour schedule, Dorval said.

First responders have a much higher risk of behavioral health issues and substance abuse disorders than those in other jobs, according to a report released last year by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

After being treated at Bedrock, McDonald said patients would hopefully continue treatment in ARK outpatient facilities located in Quincy, Falmouth and Ashby. McDonald said the company wants to offer a "continuum of care" as patients move through what is typically a long and difficult process of recovery.

When he was starting his recovery in the early 2000s, McDonald said there weren't any facilities like the one ARK has proposed. Similarly, Dorval said he found the lack of continuity between services challenging in his own recovery.

"We want to be the organizations that has all the levels of recovery laid out," Dorval said.

Bedrock will inhabit the building at 1 Meadowbrook Way, which was once a nursing home. The building will not need any major structural changes, according to ARK. The nursing home was one of five Massachusetts facilities shut down by the Kentucky-based company Kindred last year.

ARK, founded this year, acquired Northeast Addictions Treatment Center in Quincy, Recovering Champions in Falmouth and Springhill Recovery Center in Ashby. Former Norfolk County Sheriff Michael Bellotti left his position as interim president of Quincy College earlier this year to become president of ARK.

The Bedrock project goes before the Canton's zoning board again Jan. 23.

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©2019 The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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