CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Thomas Health and Saint Francis Hospital are continuing to grow according to Joe Deegan, and now the expansion will be coming along even more rapidly.

Deegan, the Business Development Liaison for the Addiction Healing Center at Saint Francis Hospital, was excited to find out that Thomas Health was awarded $1 million by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to expand substance use disorder (SUD) residential treatment and recovery services in Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, Nicholas, and Roane counties.

He said the funding will be used for a few things.

“One is expanding our existing impatient residential beds in the Addiction Healing Center to 36 and then part of the grant will be used for a sober living environment, and part of the grant will be used for PROACT,” Deegan said.

The funding is supported by the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund as part of a comprehensive statewide plan to combat the opioid epidemic, the DHHR said, and the fund mandates that DHHR identifies a need and allocate additional treatment beds in the state.

The treatment beds in the Addiction Healing Center SUD Inpatient Unit at Saint Francis will go from 20 to 36, according to Deegan. Another portion of the funds will work with Ascension Services in Morgantown to get several sober living apartments off the ground in Charleston.

Deegan said outcomes are good when people continue to stay engaged in their recovery process.

“Starting at the residential component, moving into outpatient services, going into sober living,” he said. “The longer you keep people engaged in treatment, the better their outcomes are.”

Deegan said PROACT is an organization that will have offices in Saint Francis Hospital and will be a one-stop shop for people that are suffering from addiction issues. He said it will be an outpatient center, it will have medication-assisted treatment as part of that program and it will be a place where people can come for screenings, appointments and job placement.

“The plan is to continue to expand services in general at Saint Francis,” Deegan said. “The grant will definitely enhance everything we are trying to do to provide more opportunities to people for a full continuum of care.

“That is a big emphasis, keep people engaged in treatment in the long term fashion.”

Deegan said there is a lot going on at Thomas Health in fighting the opioid issue, led by President and CEO Dan Lauffer.

“We are working with other people and other grants,” Deegan said. “The state opioid response grants we are working with folks on some of those. There are opportunities. We are involved with a workforce grant that would end up having an employment specialist that would be working on site at Saint Francis Hospital to help people get engaged in employment in their recovery. Jobs are such a big part of getting people stabilized.”

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