Nov 24, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterRiverton-based Center of Hope detoxification center is referring more clients to treatment since its merger with Volunteers of America-Northern Rockies this summer.
Formerly the Fremont County Alcohol Crisis Center, the facility on East Adams Avenue took on the name Center of Hope in October. The organizations joined forces in July.
Three months later, the center had already served 49 people, referring eight of those clients - or 16 percent - to in-patient treatment programs.
"That's more than what we were shooting for, (and) we're just really excited about that," VoA division director Rodd Richins told the Fremont County Commission during a meeting Nov. 12.
"If we (can treat) 16 percent of the individuals who are intoxicated in the park or on the street ... that's going to have some positive impacts on the community."
The Center of Hope also has referred five people to outpatient treatment during the past three months, and two additional people were referred to intensive outpatient programs, according to a report.
During the previous year the FCACC referred only one person to residential addiction treatment programs.
Once they arrive at the Center of Hope, clients are observed for 72 hours to ensure any alcohol is out of their system and they have finished going through withdrawal.
After the first three days, clients start a 14-day social detoxification program involving a substance abuse evaluation, daily exercise and meetings with Center of Hope staff.
Staff members use the evaluation to refer clients for further treatment.
Clients at the Center of Hope have the option to participate in in-patient treatment through Volun-teers of America, or choose a different program. VoA operates a facility for women called the Gathering Place and one for men called the Lifehouse, both in Sheridan. The programs last 60-90 days.
Center of Hope director Merle Yellow Kidney cautioned that in-patient treatment is not a "magic bullet" when it comes to alcohol and substance abuse.
"But it's the best chance we have of arresting a chronic disease like alcoholism," he said in an interview.
The Center of Hope has made changes to its staffing schedule and facilities since the summer.
In the past, Richins said, personnel worked 12-hour shifts, but the organization found that staff performance suffered due to the long hours.
Now, employees work in a rotation of three eight-hour shifts.
The organization is also more financial stable now, according to Richins.
In the first three months of the merger, he said the Center of Hope brought in $13,000 more than it spent. The biggest expense was wages, but the program also spent $26,000 on building maintenance and including renovations.
Richins said four new security cameras have been installed to increase accountability and safety. The Center of Hope also installed two offices at the facility and built a counter area for staff in order to improve safety.
A federal grant helped keep the program budget in the black, but the funds will not be available for the rest of the year. VoA executive vice president for administration Julie Bettcher said the $29,000 left over from the grant before the merger was a one-time source of revenue.
"I do not expect to see bottom lines like this in the upcoming quarters, but it is sustainable at this point," Bettcher said.
"We feel very comfortable we're going to be able to meet the needs."
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