The Family Health Center of Marshfield recently opened Family Health Center-Ladysmith Alcohol & Drug Recovery Center to help those in the community overcome addictions to alcohol and drugs by tackling the problem with a holistic approach.

A grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new center were held on Saturday, May 4 and included visits from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, the center’s Director of Substance Abuse Services Sheila Wiex, Indianhead Community Action Agency CEO Jennifer and about 50 other members of the community.

The Family Health Care of Marshfield is a division of Marshfield Clinic Health System and is a federally qualified health center. The Family Health Center-Ladysmith Alcohol & Drug Recovery Center (ADRS) is made possible by a HOPE 2.0 grant available through Wisconsin’s Heroin, Opiate, Prevention, and Education (HOPE) Agenda.

Wiex called the center a bi-partisan collaborative effort to bring needed alcohol and drug recovery services, as well as dental services and support for veterans. The services “wrap around” and complete gaps provided by other community services and agencies. “The goal,” said Wiex, “is to collaborate, not compete with services already available.”

Regional Communications Manager Matthew Schneider said the center was established under a federal mandate to help ensure access to primary care, dental care and addiction and mental health services in medically underserved communities.

Schneider said, “we choose Ladysmith because we were asked. The people in the community reached out to us and asked us to come because there is a need.”

Barnes said after listening to concerns across the state, this center and two others also in rural underserved communities, will help connect rural communities to the health care needs. It’s a priority to “do what is best for those living in rural Wisconsin, to make sure you get the medical attention and care you deserve,” said Barnes.

Barnes said bringing access to health care through the expansion of Medicaid to fill gaps, especially in rural Wisconsin is a goal he is working together with Evers on.

The Ladysmith ADRC is the third center like it in the state. Centers are also located in Minocqua and Marshfield to bring recovery opportunities to central, northern and western Wisconsin. Together the three centers form a HOPE Consortium, working in partnership with larger services and agencies within their communities and the Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Evers said the “three treatment centers in rural Wisconsin will help put the pieces together…connecting the dots.” Evers continued by saying, “accessing federal grant dollars returns money back to the state to ensure communities have access to first class health care in Wisconsin.”

The partnership of the center to Marshfield Clinic Health System as a federally qualified health center will ensure funding is in place to make this resource remain in the community for a long time. The center accepts insurance and is willing to work with those individuals without insurance.

The new ADRS will provide medically supported addiction recovery services for adults, aged 18 and over, offered in conjunction with counseling and comprehensive case management. Located on the first floor of Indianhead Community Action Agency, Schneider said “the proximity of the center to Indianhead helps facilitate the use of existing wrap-around support services to help make recovery possible.”

ADRS makes use of telemedicine, using iPads and technology, to bridge the challenge of having board certified addiction specialists provide care in rural, underserved communities, like Ladysmith. ADRS is also able to provide Suboxone and Vivitrol to assist patients who request medication assisted treatment. The center is able to provide Narcan, a lifesaving drug used to reverse the effects of a drug overdose.

The approach the therapists take at ADRS is comprehensive, said Schneider.

Developing individualized plans for each patient and working with community resources to review what services the patient already utilizes and identifying what other services could aid the patient in recovery are a cornerstone to the comprehensive services the program provides.

ADRS will work with other community agencies, such as Probation and Parole, Drug Court, Embrace and other agencies to create complimentary plans. The goal is not to duplicate services and efforts of community agencies, but to collaborate with those services and identify what other needs the patient has and to work to fill those needs.

Wiex said that while alcohol is the most prevalent substance abused in Wisconsin, any substance a patient needs help with recovery with is what they will focus on.

The center received the HOPE 2.0 grant last year with the goal of setting up the center in Ladysmith. A challenge of getting the center off the ground was overcoming a shortage of certified staff. Currently the center has a certified alcohol and substance abuse therapist and a nurse practitioner on staff.

The goal is to hire additional therapists to offer additional services. One goal is to offer alcohol and drug recovery services to teens.

Treatment programs vary in length depending on the individual needs of the patient. Wiex said substance addiction is considered a cronic brain disease and often requires ongoing meetings and sessions for the patient to truly recover. The path to recovery often takes two years and begins with an intense approach that progresses to the patient being able to maintain their path, said Wiex.

Surfacing to recovery, patients often struggle with housing, transportation and employment assistance. Patients also have access to the patient financial navigator to help with insurance and financial assistance. The ADRS works with patients to bring services together.

The services patients receive are protected and confidential. Treatment is at the heart of the solution and, according to Wiex, the wrap around services from other community agencies are what really make treatment and recovery work.

Wiex said there is a history of methamphetamine use in this area and a common risk factor in methamphetamine addition is the tendency for people at risk using what’s available. Wiex was clear that not all those at risk will become addicts but those at risk have a greater risk of becoming addicts.

Opioid and methamphetamine addiction is often considered a disease of disparity. Chances of addiction are greater when employment is scarce, there’s family history of drug use, traumatic childhood events occur and other factors are present.

The three centers are already showing improved quality of life on the lives of their patients and their families. The Ladysmith center opened at the end of February and has been continuing to build momentum.

Shearer said “Indianhead Community Action Agency strives to bring resources into the community when needs arrive.” The proximity of ICAA and ADRC, Shearer hopes, will help reduce and eliminate barriers to care many individuals see and will help to bring a level of self-sufficiency to patients.

The partnership of the Family Health Care of Marshfield and ADRC with the Marshfield Clinic Health System brings strength to the effectiveness of ADRC. “There is strength in the system,” said Schneider. This partnership gives the patient greater access to health care professionals and other professionals to receive a comprehensive treatment and recovery.

Community Relations Manager of Marshfield Medical Center – Ladysmith Katie Matott said “working with the many providers ensures resources are available immediately when they’re needed…it’s the perfect example of collaboration.”

“It’s an important time in health care in Wisconsin. We have to turn the corner and do something significant,” said Evers.

The center is located on the first floor of the Indianhead Community Action Agency, across from the hospital, in Ladysmith and is open to all Wisconsin residents. The hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The center accepts walk-ins and referrals.

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