Lancaster County could use more drug and alcohol detox beds, but adding them won’t be easy, according to county Drug & Alcohol Commission executive director Rick Kastner.
A recently completed strategic plan from Lancaster County Joining Forces Coalition says there are 55 detox beds in the county, but only the seven at White Deer Run, on the west side of Lancaster city, accept Medicaid and other public coverage — and those seven are for men only.
“About a year and a half ago, everyone across the state was reporting waiting lists and difficulty getting into both detox and rehab,” Kastner said.
Now, he said, the market has caught up, with new facilities and expansions across the state largely eliminating the long waits.
But, he said, because detox “is an urgent medical matter,” leaders here “still believe we need a larger male/female detox unit in the county.”
“What I’m trying to do is get one big enough that people can physically just go there 24/7, meet with the professionals in the lobby and get screened,” he said.
White Deer has been working with his department for several years to grow its offerings here by seven to 14 new beds for men and women, he said, but the site search is proving problematic.
“They are having trouble, in particular, finding a location where zoning would already allow for a detox unit,” he said.
In addition to the rise in demand, Kastner said, another key to getting people into treatment quickly has been the Medicaid expansion that went into effect in 2015.
Now, the program can cover anyone with income below 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines — roughly $16,600 for one person; $22,400 for two; or $33,900 for four.
That and federal funding for “Centers of Excellence” to treat Medicaid patients for opioid addiction have kept the county from running out of money for addiction treatment partway through the year, he said, and allowed it to financially support new efforts to fill service gaps.
Those efforts include additional halfway and recovery houses, and a “warm handoff” program so patients who have overdosed are offered help before they leave the hospital.
If Medicaid were changed “without something to take its place that would be comparable, the programs and the patients will be hurting big time,” he said.
Other key Lancaster County tallies from the strategic report are as follows.
- Three licensed short-term inpatient facilities: Nuestra Clinica Residencial, The Retreat and White Deer Run.
- Seven long-term residential or inpatient treatment facilities: Gate House for Men, Gate House for Women, Gaudenzia Vantage House, Manos House, Nuestra Clinica Residencial, Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Center and White Deer Run.
- About 20 licensed outpatient treatment locations.
- Dozens of medication-assisted treatment providers: 41 for suboxone, nine for vivitrol and one for methadone maintenance.
- Dozens of chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Al-Anon.