Those helping individuals fighting addiction of all sorts in the county will soon have a new resource for treating patients.

Pinnacle Treatment Centers Chief Executive Officer Joe Pritchard said Pinnacle’s Recovery Works Portage will help provide treatment for severe withdrawal symptoms for those with drug and alcohol addictions while helping to chart their path of recovery, providing a sturdier bridge between a visit to the emergency department for an overdose and release to some form of outpatient treatment for addiction.

"If an individual presents themselves to the emergency department with issues related to addiction, we can assess and help them navigate them to the proper level of care," he said.

Pinnacle Treatment Centers will start the new year out by renovating about 16,000 square feet of the unused third floor at University Hospitals Portage Medical Center, according to William Benoit, president of UH Portage Medical Center. The plan is to open the new unit in May or June 2020.

According to a joint news release from UH and Pinnacle, the treatment center will include 30 beds where addiction patients can go through detox and put the worst of their withdrawal symptoms behind them under close supervision by Pinnacle’s staff.

Benoit said being able to send patients to Pinnacle, just upstairs from the rest of the hospital, better aligns the level of care with the insurance and Medicaid reimbursement for detoxification.

Pritchard explained UH is licensed to provide acute care, and detox and treatment of withdrawal are a different level of treatment which Pinnacle is licensed to provide.

"A lot of withdrawal management and detoxification doesn’t necessarily require an acute level bed," said Pritchard. "Reimbursement and authorization only happens if the symptoms the patient has really support that. In the past, [patients in withdrawal] have been put in an acute bed because the hospital wants to take care of them, but the challenge was to be reimbursed. The patient might not have the physical symptoms to support that."

UH leadership was very impressed by Pinnacle’s work in other location, added Benoit.

"The hospital leadership went to Pinnacle’s Recovery Works Columbus and visited their team there and learned about their process and were very impressed by their professionalism and the quality they offered," he said.

Pritchard and Benoit said Pinnacle is working closely with Renee Klaric, director of addiction services at UH, to find Pinnacle’s niche in the county’s addiction treatment community and establish relationships with other treatment centers and agencies.

Pritchard said Pinnacle will lease the space from UH Portage Medical Center and employ about 20 to 30 employees, including a physician, nurse practitioners, nurses, aides, therapists and addiction therapists.

"That team wraps themselves around each of the patients throughout their treatment process," he explained. "You’ll have a counselor assigned to you when you come in."

During a recovering addict’s stay, which ranges typically from four to seven days, Pritchard said the focus is on overcoming withdrawal and setting a course for treatment after release.

"We have counseling staff who are there to start to provide the psychosocial support that is needed," said Pritchard. "Those individuals will help to assess the next step. Our patient navigators are skilled at moving that person from point A to point B to point C."

Benoit said UH Portage Medical Center will continue to accept overdose patients through its emergency department. Once they’re medically stabilized, many will go to Pinnacle’s recovery center.

"We will continue to admit patients who have medical comorbidities," he said. "Let’s say we have a patient who’s unfortunately addicted to methamphetamines and they also have an acute cardiac issue. We would admit that patient to the hospital, stabilize their cardiac issue and then hand them off to whatever treatment they choose afterwards. Pinnacle will now provide another option for them to choose. Not every program is the right program for every person out there. It’s good that we have a lot of community partners."

Reactions around the county

Townhall 2 currently provides some similar services for addiction patients in terms of setting the path of treatment after release from the hospital. Rob Young, Townhall 2’s clinical director, said the county will have its first "true detox center in 20 years" when Pinnacle opens its doors in May or June.

"I’m definitely looking forward to it," he said. "The partnership is going to be very organic. It’s going to be hopefully a great benefit for our residents."

Young said he can envision some Pinnacle patients stepping down to Townhall 2’s opioid treatment clinic, which provides closely monitored medically assisted treatment for opioid addiction patients on an outpatient basis.

Benoit said he looks forward to helping Pinnacle forge relationships with Townhall 2, Hope Village Recovery Center, the Mental Health and Recovery and other community partners, such as the courts and police agencies.

Dr. John Garrity, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Portage County, said he’s also looking forward to having another resource to help fight addiction in the county.

"It’ll be another resource for our county to provided detox services," he said. "I think it’s going to be a good resource for the community."

Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, or @bobgaetjens_rpc.