By Kate Cough
ELLSWORTH — The Downeast Treatment Center, a new medication-assisted treatment facility for opioid use disorders, will open its doors on April 16.
The center, which “will offer help and hope to individuals addicted to opioids,” will be a space for patients to receive peer and group counseling as well as prescriptions for Suboxone, a medication often used to treat symptoms of opiate withdrawal.
There will be no beds or medications kept on site. Patients will receive prescriptions to be filled elsewhere.
The center will be the “hub” of a model of care known as “hub and spoke,” which has been gaining traction as a way to treat opioid addiction. The Downeast Treatment Center will serve as the hub, providing care during the beginning phases of treatment. This includes three group sessions per week and a two- or three-day prescription for Suboxone. Patients will transition to weekly and then monthly sessions and finally graduate to the “spoke” of the system, a primary care provider and a substance use counselor of their choice.
The hub-and-spoke model seeks to provide intensive services for which primary care providers may be unequipped, said Elsie Flemings, executive director of Healthy Acadia, one of the groups involved in launching the center.
“Primary care providers wanted to be involved and supportive but just could not do that intensive initiation, induction and stabilization phase,” Flemings said.
The model also builds in room for relapse, Flemings said.
“It is often a relapsing disease. That’s fine, that’s part of recovery.”
Patients will have their urine tested at the facility, but those who test positive for drugs will not be removed from the program.
“It’s a very fluid model,” Flemings said. “If somebody’s still in the hub and there’s a sign that they’re not doing so well with an unclean drug screen, maybe they bump back up” to increased group sessions or Suboxone prescriptions.
The center is a collaboration involving several groups. The Aroostook Mental Health Center (AMHC) is the licensed service provider for the facility, and Mount Desert Island Hospital will provide prescribing staff. Other regional health centers and hospitals have provided funding and will serve as the “spokes.” Healthy Acadia has been coordinating the networking efforts among the organizations.
The center is funded with money from the Maine Health Access Foundation, the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
“The treatment is open to all individuals in need, including those who are uninsured and underinsured,” according to a press release on the center.
For more information or to schedule an intake appointment, call the AMHC Access Center at 1-800-244-6431.