Kentucky names doctor-founded program as model

Physicians play an active role in the Healing Place, both on the recovery center's board and providing care.

By Damon Adams — Posted Jan. 31, 2005

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A recovery program founded by physicians has become a model to help substance abusers in Kentucky beat addiction.

Kentucky plans to create 10 alcohol and drug abuse recovery centers around the state modeled after two centers, including the Healing Place, a facility in Louisville embraced by members of the Jefferson County (Ky.) Medical Society. Gov. Ernie Fletcher, MD, announced earlier this month that the state would spend $9.5 million to build the centers to house and treat 1,000 men and women.

The Healing Place's recovery program will serve as the model for the new effort, called Recovery Kentucky. The Hope Center, a shelter in Lexington, Ky., that incorporated the Healing Place's recovery plan, will be a model for the physical layout of the new facilities, said Colleen Blouin, spokeswoman for the governor's office for local development. The two centers provide a safe place for addicts to recover through peer support and daily living skills training.

"We chose the Healing Place as the model for these centers because we wanted to promote recovery throughout Kentucky in a way that is proven to be successful, is cost-effective and is designed to be replicated in any place in the Commonwealth [of Kentucky]. We found all of those in the Healing Place model, along with the leadership to convey its success," Dr. Fletcher said in a statement.

Kentucky will use $2.5 million of low-income housing tax credits to construct the centers. Operating funds will include $4 million in community development block grants and $3 million from the Dept. of Corrections.

"The Healing Place is a national model for this type of recovery program. It's exciting that they are going to be our model," Blouin said.

Medical society members pitch in

In 1989, members of the Jefferson County Medical Society, based in Louisville, adopted a small homeless shelter founded by a clergyman, then turned it into the recovery center that became the Healing Place, said plastic surgeon Gordon Tobin, MD, chair of the society's board of governors. Medical society members donated medical services and resources to enhance the program, he said.

"We started out as a soup kitchen, having no idea what to do other than we were doing something good," said Ken Peters, MD, a semiretired family physician and former president of both the Jefferson County society and the Kentucky Medical Assn., which also supports the facility.

Organizers realized that tackling drug and alcohol addiction was key to reducing the number of homeless people. The Healing Place has served about 1,600 people and claims a 65% success rate. It has been named "A Model That Works" by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

"There's a very strong involvement by physicians," Dr. Tobin said. "It says a lot about a [medical] society that reaches out beyond the immediate concerns of physicians and their patients."

Healing Place President and CEO Jay Davidson said several physicians serve on the center's board of directors, including Dr. Tobin and Dr. Peters, who is immediate past chair. About 25 physicians volunteer at the center's clinic, and another 25 to 30 specialists see clients at their offices.

The Kentucky Medical Assn. supports the Healing Place by raising community awareness, and member physicians volunteer at the center, Davidson said.

State and Healing Place officials said more recovery centers are needed in Kentucky, which has problems with methamphetamine labs in the western part of the state as well as an OxyContin abuse crisis in eastern Kentucky and elsewhere.

"People will be able to get recovery when they can't afford to pay for it. It'll be in their hometown. It will reduce health care costs because of reduced visits to emergency rooms," Davidson said.

He expects the new recovery centers to begin opening within a year. Participants must be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, state officials said.

Healing Place leaders said their center had a high success rate because it incorporated a 12-step program with peer mentoring, in which recovering addicts serve as mentors and counselors.

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External links

The Healing Place (link)

Jefferson County (Ky.) Medical Society (link)

Kentucky Medical Assn. (link)

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