Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Substance abuse clinic closing

SAUGERTIES - A local alcohol and substance abuse clinic plans to permanently close its doors Friday.

Catskill Mountain Counseling on U.S. Route 9W notified the state last month that it would be voluntarily surrendering its operating certificate, according to Dianne Henk, director of communications for the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. She said the local clinic notified the state of its intentions to close in a letter received July 31. Since that time, the state agency has been working with the clinic on a termination plan, Henk said.

Henk said the termination plan is created to make sure patients have appropriate care at a new location. As part of the plan, arrangements need to be made to protect the patients' medical records, she said. The facility is currently treating 35 clients, Henk said.

"What will happen now is the clients will be given a choice of other programs to go to," Henk said. She said there are three other clinics in the area, one of which is in Kingston, that could serve the needs of Catskill Mountain Counseling's clients.

Catskill Mountain Counseling serves as an outpatient alcoholism and substance abuse clinic. It provides a full range of treatments for alcoholics and addicts, as well as their families. Treatment is offered to individuals, couples, families and groups, though clinic owner Margot Molnar said most of the treatment has been provided on an individual basis.

"It's just time to close," Molnar said last week of the clinic. She said the clinic has been in business for the past 10 years and is happy to have served the community. Molnar said the clinic hopes its clients will stay "nice and clean and sober" in the future.

Henk said Ulster County's Mental Health Department may look to replace the clinic with a similar facility. She said the county's mental health commissioner has a subcommittee that deals with addiction issues and determines if there is a need for this type of clinic. If there is a need, the county would reach out to find one, Henk said. She said once a provider is found, the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services would certify the program. Henk said the agency certifies all addiction programs in the state.

The state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services had been investigating a complaint against Catskill Mountain Counseling, agency spokeswoman Jennifer Farrell said. She said the investigation has been substantially completed and a preliminary findings report regarding service quality and regulatory compliance was being drafted. That report, however, will not be made public because the clinic is closing, Farrell said. She said the clinic's closing concludes the investigation. If the investigation had gone forward, the clinic would have had the opportunity to respond to the report if it had desired to do so, Farrell added.
source: Daily Freeman,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Humane way to tackle addiction

Ever heard of addiction psychiatry? It’s new in the medical field. Addiction psychiatrist Dr. Sanju George loves his job and the satisfaction that he derives from it is his greatest payoff. The reason that I am sitting with Dr. George is that he recently won the ‘Hospital Doctor’ Award in the United Kingdom in his field of work.

Dr. George (and “my team”, he insists) was chosen for the award for the innovation that he brought into the treatment of alcoholics and drug addicts. Traditionally treatment for substance misuse would be provided by a specialist and what Dr. George (and his team) has done is introduced the concept of ‘shared care’. Dr. George heads ‘The Bridge’. The Bridge is the specialist drug service in Solihull, part of the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust.

Innovation is what led him and his team to evolve this system of ‘shared care’ where the General Practitioner can treat an addict rather than referring him to a specialist. “Obviously there is stigma attached to addiction treatment. GPs do not want drug addicts walking in for treatment. What we are doing is encouraging them to treat addicts. We provide training, supervision and support.” Apparently unlike here where we head straight to a specialist the moment we suspect something, there everybody has to visit a GP who then decides where the sick person should be headed. The treatment would therefore be comprehensive because the patient gets holistic care. Drug addiction is accompanied by several other problems,” says Dr. George. Besides, according to him, there are fewer stigmas attached when an addict is treated at the level of GP. Of course if things get difficult at the GP’s then the specialist team steps in and takes over.

Family involved

Humaneness is what marks the system, the understanding that there are other people – the family – involved. In a gesture seldom done in foreign countries, Dr. George has handed his mobile number to his patients and their families. “It is fairly traumatic for family members when they have to bail a family member out of jail or any other problem. It is therefore good to establish a therapeutic relationship with the family too because they too need empathy and understanding,” he says. All said and done, he admits that this is no magic formula, but this is one formula that has worked or is working although there are occasional failures.

Would a system like that work in India? “I am not qualified to make a comment on that because I am not familiar with what the system is here.”

He has been at the Bridge, based in Birmingham for the last three years. Dr George did his schooling at Rajagiri School and pre-degree from Maharaja’s College before heading to St Johns, Bangalore for his MBBS and then to the United Kingdom for higher studies where he specialised in Addiction Psychiatry.

Addiction psychiatry is in its nascence. “There is a lot of scope to do things, whether it is innovative or research.”

Coming back to his payoff? “It is as I said. The satisfaction, of course I am at a privileged position of having the time as well to spend time with my patients, of being allowed to do this.” When he is not at The Bridge, Dr. George does research and he also teaches at the Birmingham Medical School.

Working in a place where 99 per cent of the population is white, has the colour of his skin been a problem? “I have never experienced discrimination because of my race, when a patient walks in my door for treatment I don’t think my race becomes the issue,” says Dr. George. How about coming back home? Dr. George stops, pauses, thinks and says, “Maybe. Sometimes I do think about doing something for my people but there are several things that have to be considered,” he signs off.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

B.C. government to help fund Mission addiction centre

The provincial government will provide a one-time grant of $650,000 to the Salvation Army's Cordula and Gunter Paetzold Rehabilitation Centre.

The centre, located northeast of Mission, is one of Canada's most recognized addiction treatment facilities, Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman said in a news release.

The funding will go toward operating the centre's 90-day residential treatment and recovery program for men with alcohol and drug addictions.

The centre, which receives referrals from physicians, hospitals, regional detoxification centers, community agencies and other Salvation Army programs, admitted more than 700 men in 2007.

The funding is in addition to annual provincial funding of just over $768,000 provided through the Emergency Shelter Program, Coleman said.