Seeing a recent surge in patient volume, Phoenix House New England is expanding its services in Keene and Brattleboro.
The not-for-profit behavioral health provider specializes in the treatment and prevention of substance use disorders and mental health disorders, according to its website. Phoenix House has 97 locations across 10 states, including in New Hampshire and Vermont.
Each Phoenix House location offers different services depending on the area’s needs, according to Phoenix House New England President and CEO Peter Mumma. But in recent months, the organization has offered more services due to an increase in patients at its New England sites.
This includes adding more outpatient services for substance use treatment in Keene, plans for outpatient treatment in Brattleboro and telehealth services for both substance use and behavioral health disorders across the state of Vermont.
“Our volume specifically has increased over the past few months, and we grew at the speed the community needed us to,” he said.
Keene’s location, for example, has seen a 23 percent uptick in the past six months and an 83 percent rise over the past two and a half years, according to data provided by Mumma.
Mumma said the increase in patients could be related to the region’s growing focus on combating addiction.
“We’re seeing a large focus and increase on overdose prevention,” he said. “Largely, I think it’s just an increase that we are seeing in requests for care with more and more discussion on the need and benefit of treatment.”
Programs like The Doorway — New Hampshire’s “hub and spoke” system, launched last year, to screen, assess and refer people to treatment and support services in the community — have also helped bring attention to the issue, Mumma noted.
The New Hampshire program is modeled after a Vermont initiative that began in 2014, designed to increase access to medications that aid in recovery from opioid addiction.
In Vermont, the Phoenix House has two sobriety houses in Brattleboro — one for men and one for women — and a men’s home in Bellow Falls.
The program — Recovery in an Independent, Sober Environment (RISE) — supports people who have experienced a repeated pattern of drug or alcohol addiction as they learn how to sustain long-term recovery. Clients spend between three and 24 months in the program, the website states. To enroll, a person must have completed a residential or intensive outpatient treatment program within the past six months.
But Phoenix House does not offer outpatient or inpatient treatment in Windham County.
Mumma said the agency is filling part of that service gap by adding outpatient mental heath services and medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders in Brattleboro. The services, expected to launch in a few weeks, will be offered inside the RISE Women’s Supported Living Program at 300 Maple St.
This comes at a time of uncertainty for another local provider, the Brattleboro Retreat, whose president and CEO recently announced it could close or scale back its services due to financial pressures.
President and CEO Louis Josephson told The Commons this past week that downsizing to fewer beds was the more likely of the two scenarios.
The Retreat, among other mental health services, offers Suboxone treatment through Vermont’s hub and spoke system. Suboxone is one of three medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid-use disorders.
If the Retreat shutters, Mumma said previously, Phoenix House’s expansion in Brattleboro could help make up for the loss.
Phoenix House’s Brattleboro and Burlington locations will also soon be centers for telehealth services across Vermont, according to Mumma.
Telehealth — which connects patients and doctors virtually through video conferencing — will be available for RISE program clients or any Vermont resident seeking treatment for substance use or behavioral health disorders.
“Anyone in Vermont will be able to access the prescription and clinical services without experiencing any of the other barriers, like transportation,” Mumma said.
The Brattleboro and Burlington offices already have psychiatric nurse practitioners and therapists on staff, so patient consultations will be conducted from those locations, Mumma noted.
“We hope that this will follow the progression of needing to meet people with health care needs at the speed they need it,” he said. “They’ve called because they need it right now. It’s not a matter of even waiting a couple of days.”
The organization’s telehealth services are slated to be available in a few months, according to Mumma.
An intensive option in Keene
The Phoenix House location in Keene, at 106 Roxbury St., offers medication-assisted treatment, residential care, partial hospitalization and outpatient services for behavioral health and substance use disorders.
The site recently added intensive outpatient treatment for the latter, Mumma said.
The intensive program — which is for patients who need a higher level of care than people in standard outpatient treatment — provides supportive sessions to identify substance use triggers, while teaching skills for reduction of use or abstinence, the website states. The program also requires outpatient drug and alcohol treatment group sessions, which meet three times a week for three hours.
Most patients live at home during this program, but boarding is available for those who want a more intense program, which lasts seven days.
Phoenix House also has a residential treatment program in Dublin for adults with substance use disorders, but it’s not part of the recent expansion.
By adding these services, Mumma said the organization hopes to help more people through recovery.
“Every community has a huge amount of need,” he said. “We’re specifically positioning ourselves to be more health-care focused and focusing on the whole person ... this is about community care, engagement and really being there as a community health care provider.”
Those seeking recovery can call the Phoenix House at 1-888-671-9392 to schedule an appointment.
For immediate assistance, Cheshire County residents can visit The Doorway at 640 Marlboro Road in Keene (the Curran Building on Route 101) Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or seek support through the state’s 24/7 hotline at 211.
Information on Vermont’s hub and spoke program can be found at blueprintforhealth.vermont.gov.