Program eyed to help more drug patients

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 12, 2007

New Haven Recovery Center hopes to use Lincoln County as a pilotin utilizing county funds to provide its services to moreresidents.

The pilot program hopes to address two problems facing thesubstance abuse treatment facility – a tight budget and potentiallow-income candidates slipping through the cracks, said SteveEllis, director.

Ellis has requested an additional $10,000 over the county’snormal appropriation of $33,000 annually to fund the program.

Presently, individuals are required to pay a minimum fee of 50percent of the total costs of treatment, based on financialability. Discounts offered by state and federal grants are thenapplied based on socioeconomic factors that could lower the totalcost by 90 percent.

However, a 90 percent discount means a potential client stillfaces total costs ranging from $600 to $6,000 for 42 days oftreatment, Ellis said. Many potential clients simply can’t affordthat and therefore don’t seek the treatment they need.

The pilot program has established an account of $10,000 forLincoln County residents who can’t meet even the 90 percentdiscount. It would only be drawn upon in times of need to helpcounty residents qualify for the treatment program, Ellis said.

“If it works here in Lincoln County, we will make similarrequests to other Southwest Mississippi counties,” he said. “Therewould be a strict accounting of all funds used in this way and youwould be briefed on those funds.”

Participants who drop out of the voluntary program while usingLincoln County funds would be required to reimburse the facilityfor its costs, Ellis said.

“People who are assisted in this manner will be expected tocomplete the program or pay for it,” he said. “We will not befrivolous with your funds. Every penny will be accounted for.”

Ellis hopes the program can also help with another pressing needof the facility.

Over time, he said, funding has become tight as allocations tothe facility have stagnated despite rising costs.

The facility’s programs cost in excess of $1 million annually.In addition to the county, funding for the facility comes fromoperational revenue and state and federal sources.

“If we’re not able to find some way to boost our income, myconcern is we’ll eventually be forced to cut down on beds and limitour services,” Ellis said.

New Haven Recovery Center has two Lincoln County locations. Themen’s unit on Old Highway 84 hosts 24 beds while the female unit inBrookhaven houses 12 beds. A full-time staff of 24 employeesoversees both locations.

New Haven Recovery Center treats clients on a voluntary basisonly.

Participants can choose to leave at any time, except thoseordered to the program by a court of law. Even those ordered by thecourt may choose to leave the program, but the appropriateauthorities are notified of the decision and must pick up theindividual.