Robert Newman, development director for the nonprofit Community Assessment and Treatment Services Inc., talks about the partnership with Summa Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital to open a residential men’s treatment facility. HALEE HEIRONIMUS / GAZETTE
WADSWORTH — A Cleveland nonprofit will open a residential drug addiction treatment center at Summa Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital next year, marking the first of its kind in the county.
Community Assessment and Treatment Services Inc. announced Friday it signed a five-year lease agreement with the hospital to open a 16-bed, inpatient treatment center for men with opiate and heroin addictions.
The group held a news conference with Wadsworth city officials, Medina County Common Pleas Judge Joyce V. Kimbler and representatives from Summa Health, the Wadsworth Drug Free Community Coalition, Alternative Paths and the Medina County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board.
“We’re very happy about this partnership with Summa,” said Robert Newman, development director for the nonprofit CATS. “This has constantly been an issue with Medina County, the fact that we have no residential treatment services. I think it shows their commitment to the Wadsworth community.”
The hospital will invest $500,000 in construction and renovation costs for the approximately 6,000-square-foot space that the nonprofit will use, said Molly Menton, of Summa Health.
It is scheduled to open March 1.
Offering levels of care
The space, which has been vacant for about two years, previously was a physical therapy unit, she said. It will encompass 16 beds, restrooms with showers, full-service kitchen, a common room and office space.
“In recent years we’ve been making a pretty significant push to increase services here at the facility and to increase our community involvement and community presence,” Menton said. “We’re so happy to be able to partner together to find a way to help combat this disease.”
The facility will serve only men at this time, but the agency hopes to expand to include women and juveniles in the future.
“One step at a time,” said John Scalish, chief operating officer of CATS. “We’re well-versed in treating women in the epidemic, but it’s a big endeavor to come into the area and we wanted to start with men where we find are the majority of those wrestling with opiate use disorder.”
It will be a Medicaid-funded facility, meaning patients will need Medicaid coverage to be served. Representatives said they hope to work with private insurances in the future.
The residential treatment facility will have about 13 full-time staff hired or contracted through CATS that will provide mental health services, including cognitive behavioral therapy and criminogenic thinking.
Newman said the agency has licensed clinicians, professional counselors, social workers and chemical dependency specialists.
“We plan to work and explore medication-assisted therapy with the help of Summa,” Newman said. “We hope to provide that full wraparound services, and with Summa’s help to access for critical medical stabilization and physical health care.”
“We plan on working closely with CATS if they need referrals, but also primary family physicians for those who haven’t been to a doctor in a while,” Menton said.
The nonprofit’s clinical director, Lou LaMarca, said patients will be required to stay at the facility for a minimum of 45 days, but the average length of time will be individualized for each person.
“The longer someone is willing to stay and there’s a need for it, the better,” LaMarca said.
When an individual completes his or her stay at the residential level, LaMarca said the group plans to work with other agencies, such as The LCADA Way, to continue patient treatment.
“Research suggests that a long treatment episode over multiple levels of care gets the best outcome,” LaMarca said.
Filling a need
CATS, which has been around for 27 years, began its search to house a facility in Medina in 2015. The group recognized a need to expand in the county because the adult probation department was sending probationers to its facilities in Cleveland.
“It’s not a service you want your community to need, but unfortunately we do and I think our services here will help get people back on their feet and back to being sober, productive members of society,” Newman said.
CATS’ main facility in Cleveland has 211 residential beds that serve men and women.
Newman emphasized the new facility in Summa is strictly designed to serve Medina County residents.
“There were some concerns that we were going to bring people from Cleveland down to this facility or bring people in from prisons or jails outside of the county into our treatment facility here and that’s not the case,” he said.
The conversation with Wadsworth officials to get a residential treatment center in the community started about two years ago between Mayor Robin Laubaugh and Safety Director Matt Hiscock.
“I got a call from an acquaintance and that individual had expressed concern that their child was in need and there was nowhere for that individual to be served here,” Laubaugh said. “We recognized that perhaps we needed to do a better job in the community of Wadsworth to provide help to those individuals in need.”
“This issue is more about serving people than any issue I’ve ever dealt with,” Hiscock said. “Things are happening on the fronts where we’re going to change the tide of this epidemic and this facility is a big step in the right way.”
But Hiscock said he believes there’s still more work that needs to be done.
“This is just one piece of the puzzle,” he said. A detox facility is another important piece and continuing the partnerships with social services agencies.
“This is a great step, a big step, a long time coming, but there is still work to be done.”
Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.