Connections bringing detox connection to Downstate Delaware

HARRINGTON – It’s not a 100-percent cure-all, but it’s a start.

In the midst of the growing heroin epidemic, Connections Community Support Programs Inc. plans to bring detox and other treatment services to Southern Delaware with the scheduled summer opening of a center in Harrington.

And there are plans to move Connection’s methadone clinic in Long Neck to a new location – which could open the door for expanded service.

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To be located in what is now called Spartan Center shopping center, the Harrington facility will feature 16 overnight beds, a dozen 23-hour beds and a partial hospital step-down program that can serve upward of 100 people.

Currently, Connections provides medication-assisted treatment at its integrated health clinics in Long Neck, Dover and Newark.

The Harrington center, scheduled to open in mid-August, will fill a void created about seven years ago when the state closed the detox center in Ellendale – the only detox facility that operated in southern part of state, according to Catherine McKay, founder, president and CEO of Connections.

“For the last six or seven years since that closed, people who are here in Kent and Sussex County who needed to go to a detox to get started on their recovery, haven’t had any place to go,” said Ms. McKay at a June 23 evening of education and awareness at the Harrington Fire Hall.

In some cases, the only route for some people downstate seeking help with heroin/opiate addiction was to be driven by police to New Castle County, Ms. McKay said.

“And I think sometimes for some people, the fact that there are only 40 beds in the whole state – and you have to go New Castle County to access one – probably prevents people from starting on their recovery,” Ms. McKay said.

Ms. McKay said the 23-hour beds will “probably be for people who are wanting to start their journey of withdrawal from opiate drugs and begin the process of treatment.”

“The 16 beds that are overnight will probably be used mostly by those who need to withdraw under medical supervision,” said Ms. McKay. “Probably seven days would be the maximum. The week is just a detox. People will be able to stay in the partial hospital program where they will live at home but come during the day for 30 days – and then at the end of that period transition to an outpatient program.”

Addressing the First State’s heroin epidemic gained support of Gov. Jack Markell and Delaware’s General Assembly, which provided funding.

About a year ago, Connections emerged as the winning bidder to open a withdrawal management center that would serve Sussex and Kent counties.

The search for a suitable site was somewhat difficult in that such a center is categorized as a hospital, for which there are minimal zoning options. The shopping center, presently undergoing renovation, fit the bill.

Connections will lease the property with future hope of an outright purchase.

“We are looking to ultimately maybe have a full-scale clinic here at this location that will have primary care services, mental health services and longer term substance abuse treatment services,” said Ms. McKay. “Attached to the center will be an intensive outpatient program, a partial hospital for people who have finished the in-patient part of detox and need someplace to come during the day to be able to really get themselves stabilized before they go to outpatient treatment.”

In Sussex, Connections Inc., hopes to make the move by the end of summer from its current Long Neck location at John J. Williams Highway and Rt. 5 to U.S. 113 and Old Landing road. The methadone clinic also offers mental health treatment and primary care.

“They have a pretty wide range of services there and they offer substance abuse treatment without medications … if you prefer that. They serve about 500 people there now – every day,” said Ms. McKay. “We’re hoping that when they move they’ll be able to serve even more.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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