An addiction treatment provider is opening its third residential facility in Keene, in a space formerly occupied by another treatment center that recently shut down after more than 15 years in the city.
Manchester-based Live Free Recovery Services — which opened a 16-bed sober-living home for men on Court Street in November — moved into Phoenix House New England’s former Keene location and is reopening under Live Free’s name Thursday, according to its founder and CEO Ryan Gagne.
This comes two weeks after Live Free took over another sober-living program in the city.
Phoenix House New England closed its site at 106 Roxbury St. in March. Because of the building’s small size, President and CEO Peter Mumma said, keeping that facility open wasn’t financially feasible.
“Every program that has beds needs to have a certain census level of beds filled to cover its cost,” he explained in a text. “Over the years costs increased faster than insurance rates for payment so the breakeven census level became [too] high over time.”
Phoenix House’s Keene site offered residential care, partial hospitalization and outpatient services for behavioral health and substance use disorders. The facility also provided medication-assisted treatment for the latter and added intensive outpatient treatment last year.
The Keene location would need to hit about 93 percent occupancy to be sustainable, Mumma said, but was only around 75 percent.
Patients who used this facility have shifted to Phoenix House’s larger site in Dublin at 3 Pierce Road, which Mumma said offers the same services. Keene employees were also offered roles at the Dublin location, he said.
Fourteen beds moved from Keene to Dublin as part of this, Mumma said, bringing Dublin’s total to 49. Most patients using Keene’s outpatient services were doing so virtually.
Gagne cited Phoenix House’s closure in the Elm City as part of the reason for Live Free’s recent expansion.
“The local recovery community, and Keene as a whole, has been fantastic to us, as well as the clients,” he said, “and also with the reduction in programs with losing Phoenix House, the hole that creates is a big one, so we wanted to fill it as best we could.”
On Roxbury Street, Gagne said Live Free will offer an extended-care residential program, aimed at helping New Hampshire men who are just starting their recovery from alcohol or drugs.
Clients will stay at the “highly structured” 16-bed facility for 30 to 60 days, according to Gagne, who has been in recovery from alcohol and drugs since 2008.
During the day, he said, clients will attend clinical services off site, such as cooking classes, recovery meetings and enrichment activities. In the evening, Gagne said, they will come back to the facility and receive peer-based services.
This is similar to Live Free’s program at 361 Court St., which offers the same services but clients stay for 30 to 45 days.
Live Free also took over Keene’s Prospect House sober-living facility on Water Street earlier this month.
The former owners, Winchester’s Suzanne and David Boisvert, started the facility for men in 2018 after witnessing a loved one struggle with addiction.
Suzanne Boisvert told The Sentinel on Tuesday that their goal was to get the program up and running, and now that it is, they felt it was time to let someone else take over.
“There were no sober houses in our county prior to Prospect House opening, and I was passionate about seeing that change,” she said. “... Ryan came into our community, and he has a whole staff of qualified and wonderful folks, so I thought it was a good time to hand him the reins.”
She added her next goal is to open a sober home for women on Church Street, and she hopes to sell the home to a substance-use treatment provider before it opens.
“We are grateful to have helped to continue this valuable service and for all the work they did,” Gagne said. “It’s our honor to carry that on.”
The 16-bed Prospect House property, which has been renamed Prospect House at Live Free, is for New Hampshire men who are well into their recovery, according to Gagne.
“It’s a long-term option for the clients we already have, allowing for nine months to a year of continuous care,” he said.
Clients will actively work on the 12 steps of recovery and have family, group and one-on-one meetings. Medication-assisted treatment is also available, administering methadone and Suboxone — medications that treat opioid addiction. The medication is often coupled with counseling and behavioral therapies.
Meditation, vocational training and recreational activities are also offered, according to Live Free’s website.
Gagne added that all of Live Free’s facilities are adhering to strict COVID-19 guidelines, such as pre-admission testing, testing while enrolled and individual rooms for a majority of clients.
“This allows folks to feel safe when entering treatment,” he said, “so we don’t have to add another barrier.”
Live Free Recovery Services can be reached at 877-9757.
For immediate assistance, Cheshire County residents can visit The Doorway — a referral hub for people to get help with substance use disorders — at 24 Railroad St. in Keene. The Doorway is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Support through the state’s 24/7 hotline is available at 211.