Conditions at Maryland Public Addictions Center “Deplorable at Best”

Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire
04/04/2014 -ATIN – In an example of how the public addiction treatment drug rehab alcohol rehab infrastructure has been neglected in the wake of state financial difficulties post monster recession, and frankly even going way before that, but also an example of how those issues are beginning to be addressed and even reversed as slowly treatment funding starts to get some priority, public addictions services provider Avery Road Treatment Center in Rockville, MD, has become a big time priority for local Montgomery County officials seeking to address growing addiction problems. These same officials are seeking to put big line items in county budgets while also appealing directly to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley for funding help to get the center in shape to really make a difference for those who are poorest and need treatment at an acute residential level and maybe, just maybe, get a chance to turn their lives around.

Some Units “Deplorable”

Not mincing words, Montgomery County officials have called the state and condition of some of the units at 60-bed Avery Road Center “at best deplorable,” showing how public funded facilities aimed at serving the lowest income rank have been short changed. And that’s not just in Montgomery County, MD, in fact a quite prosperous locale, but all over these United States. And as opiate addiction moves big time into middle class neighborhoods, and thus is now beginning to get paid attention to, the state of neglect of public non-profits is coming to light everywhere. For guys like Chicago-based Gateway Foundation CEO Michael Darcy that state of neglect has been obvious for some time now, going back nearly a decade. Darcy at one point was very interested in effectuating a roll-up of the immensely fragmented public side of the treatment business, but wound up not doing a single deal mainly he told Treatment Magazine because he couldn’t find a center whose infrastructure didn’t require immense investment to be brought up to Gateway standards. Darcy is one of the most capable and mission committed treatment executives in the nation who for decades ran Gateway as among the very best public funded treatment operations. But Illinois’ massive state budget and funding crisis – it has gotten so bad it can only be called that – necessitated a game changing switch in payor mix at Gateway toward private insurance, with Gateway’s board about five years ago handing Darcy a mandate to go from zero to one-third commercial insurance ASAP.  Gateway is by far the largest addiction treatment provider in Illinois, the nation’s fifth most populous state, with approximately $80M in consolidated annual revenues.

New Facility?

Officials in Montgomery County have tentatively put their Avery Road center down in the fiscal 2015 capital budget as being in line for planning toward an entirely new facility for the struggling provider, according to published reports. But much of the future for Avery Road is highly dependent on what happens in Annapolis, the tiny state’s capitol. Also according to published reports, Montgomery County’s top officials have pleaded with Gov. O’Malley for a supplemental appropriation for Avery Road, but so far all the governor is saying is that the public’s health is a top priority…. bla bla bla. But given the obvious need, and the fact such spending is getting increasingly politically popular, the money for a renewed Avery Road Treatment Center probably has a good chance of becoming reality.

What Does “Deplorable” Look Like?

Curious to see what “deplorable” looks like, we called Avery Road’s director Meghan Westwood hoping she could get us some pictures and, of course, comment on what it’s like to run Avery Road and how she thinks things are likely to work out… as of blast time Ms. Westwood had yet to call us back. If and when she does, we will hopefully get those pics and will post them here with the story lickety split…  


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