Nashua hospital launches substance abuse center
By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI Staff Writer
Southern New Hampshire Medical Center expanded its efforts to help those struggling with illicit and prescription drug abuse that has reached crisis proportions in the state by launching two new programs last week.
The Southern New Hampshire Medical Substance Misuse Evaluation program is open to anyone in the region concerned about drug or alcohol use. Certified addiction and mental health clinicians assess clients, determine the level of care they need, then make referrals.
The substance abuse evaluation program is similar to what Jack Wozmak, the governor’s drug czar, recommended this week as part of his 22-point plan to combat drug addiction and protect treatment.
The Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Program allows those struggling with substance misuse to receive treatment while continuing to live and work in the community. The two-phased program can accommodate 10 people; four already are enrolled, according to Lori Magoon, senior addictions clinician and program manager.
“There is such a desperate need in Nashua,” said Magoon, who also is president of the New Hampshire Alcohol and Drug Counselors Association.
The hospital officially launched both programs on July 12. Both are based at its West Campus at 29 Northwest Blvd. Appointments are required and may be made by calling 579-5108 or 579-5109.
Southern New Hampshire Medical Center also plans to open five new detoxification beds at its behavioral unit at the West Campus, Magoon said. The hospital currently has 13 beds available for those dealing with mental health issues or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues.
At the Southern New Hampshire Medical Substance Misuse Evaluation Program, Magoon and her colleague, Jessie Cannon, use American Society of Addiction Medicinecriteria to evaluate clients who feel they have a drug or alcohol problem. Both clinicians are master’s-level alcohol and drug counselors.
They would determine what level of treatment a client needs – ranging from outpatient counseling, detoxification, residential treatment to intensive outpatient treatment – then refer them to programs throughout the state.
“There has been this call for a system of assessment centers (in regions across the state) where people could go to get that assessing work done. That has been the missing piece,” said Timothy Rourke, chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Intervention and Treatment.
Those suffering from substance abuse or their caregivers often find it daunting to determine the appropriate level of treatment needed, he said.
“Having an assessment center where someone can to go to get that question answered, that is a piece that’s been hard to come by. So it’s great to see hospitals stepping in and trying to do that work,” Rourke added.
Magoon said the assessment program will provide relief to hospital emergency rooms where many people with substance abuse disorders often turn as a first resort.
“One of the biggest benefits for the hospitals is it opens more space in the emergency rooms,” Magoon explained.
“Our training is to evaluate them where another medical professional may not have that specific training. It’s also a really good resource for primary care providers,” added Magoon, who also is a licensed clinical mental health clinician.
The program accepts those with private health insurance, Medicaid or self-pay, she said. It plans to be able to accept payments in September from the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, also known as Medicaid expansion.
The Substance Misuse Intensive Outpatient Program provide outpatient treatment three nights weekly for five weeks, then moves into the second phase of once weekly sessions for 10 weeks. Those attending also have the option of meeting once weekly with a counselors.
Magoon joined the hospital staff in May. She previously was a drug and alcohol counselor in private practice in Concord. Her book, “Just Ask Andy,” was recently published.
Kathryn Marchocki can be reached at 594-6589, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Telegraph_KMar.