Susan Loughery is Director of Operations at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton. She spoke to us about the organization’s innovative program to help people in need of mental health services, including addiction treatment.
The federal government recently awarded your organization a $4 million grant over two years to expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) program in underserved areas of Mercer and Burlington counties. Who will benefit from the expansion?
We want to help vulnerable people whose complex needs historically have left them out of the system. We’re also seeking to specifically help military veterans. New Jersey was one of eight states selected to receive the funding. CCBHCs are a new provider type in Medicaid to expand access to mental health and addiction services in the community. We partner with hospitals and community agencies.
You mentioned you are providing No Wall Integrated Care. Can you explain on a practical level what that means?
It’s rapid access to all the services within the Continuum of Care. It allows us to integrate a holistic treatment approach for addiction and mental health, psychosocial rehabilitation services, and then fast-track liaison to other needs. It means walk-in appointments, care coordination … and people can access the system at whatever point they are in their treatment. We have the opportunity to set up ambulatory detox and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). It’s a one-stop shopping model.
Is the focus of CCBHC addiction treatment?
What’s happened in New Jersey is that because there is the tremendous need for addiction treatment services, the CCBHC has really becomes a conduit for access to those services. But it’s not just addiction treatment; it’s also addressing the underlying mental health diagnoses — and then also supporting recovery through the inclusion of the psychosocial rehab services as well as supportive housing. We navigate people through the entire system to access everything they need. … If people went to an addiction specific provider their other needs might not be met. Maybe there also is PTSD or a housing issue. … And we also have a full service pharmacy. So we’re not just saying, ‘Take your medicine.’ We’re giving people access to medication.
Can you describe the focus on ambulatory detox?
There’s an assumption that you can only go through a detox protocol inpatient, but it can be done safely in the community. The outcomes between residential detox and ambulatory detox parallel, yet the cost difference is tremendous.
We know that people struggling with substance abuse often are turned away from treatment because there are not enough spaces, or they don’t have insurance. Will any person reaching out to you receive treatment?
We’ll provide the care coordination. When someone walks in you don’t know at that point if they need inpatient treatment — or can you do an ambulatory detox protocol? If they need inpatient we will work with our network of inpatient providers to make that happen, and provide transportation…This program opens the door to those who were excluded from addictions treatment because of socio-economic conditions. And we’re working with hospitals, and also with law enforcement and corrections. We’re providing new pathways that are seamless.
Providing services to veterans is a focus of the grant. Can you explain how you will help veterans?
The expansion funding under the new Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant allows us to increase services for veterans, particularly in Burlington County where there is a high concentration of Veterans in need of behavioral health and addictions crisis services. We’ll coordinate with the Veterans Administration for collaborative treatment protocols and work to provide supportive employment.