Originally published in The Journal
MARTINSBURG — While many organizations and recovery entities worldwide have had to put large plans on the backburner to ensure safety and care during the COVID-19 pandemic, leadership with the Eastern Panhandle’s Mountaineer Recovery Center said it’s charging ahead to expand its services and address the Mountain State’s own opioid epidemic.
According to facility leadership, the overdose fatality rate exceeded COVID deaths by 200% in February, March and April in Berkeley County alone, with a number of alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous meetings canceled and many clinics and providers stopping or altering their services.
“There has not been a stop of this epidemic during the pandemic,” Kevin Knowles, business development chief at Mountaineer Recovery Center, said. “We haven’t had many of these services in the Eastern Panhandle, and we have been blessed with nearly $10 million in grants to provide these facilities for these individuals in recovery. It’s important that we push forward to get these done quicker and faster, so we can supply these services so there is no waiting list for those waiting for treatment. Even after they leave treatment, there is no place for people to go, so that is why we are adding quickly to that five-year plan.”
Of the number of expansions shared in the facility’s five-year plan, Jonathan Hartiens, recovery center CEO, announced the first big growth to the facility and its services would take place late next week, when it would have its ground-breaking ceremony for a $3 million facility for its pregnant and post-partum women’s center.
The construction, funded by the state Ryan Brown grant funds, will increase the recovery center’s capacity from 48 to 72 residential treatment beds, accommodating 40 men and 32 women.
The women’s center will provide 12 apartments for women to have children remain with them while they are in treatment, with special focus on helping moms form healthy attachments to their children, develop parenting and life skills, all while learning to sustain sobriety.
The ground breaking is followed with additional growth efforts in local partnerships, with judicial services such as Berkeley County Day Report Center, Morgan County Day Report and Adult Drug Court.
“Addiction affects the community, so solutions are most effective when done in community collaboration,” Hartiens said. “The Berkeley and Morgan day report centers are doing an excellent job, and we’re humbled to partner with them. This will greatly reinforce community partnerships and improve recovery rates.”
In addition, the release said the facility has already doubled its outpatient services and has increased from two medical providers when it opened in November last year to five medical providers currently, adding this increase is due to the facility having already outgrown its current 30,000 square-foot facility. The center is targeting another property to provide services exclusively for its outpatient services.
The five-year plan is set to close with its largest project creating a Mountaineer Recovery Village to provide more long-term recovery accommodations to those patients who need it, the release said.
“We intend to make this place the model for the state and the East Coast as it will meet all of the accreditation requirements of the West Virginia Association for Recovery Residences,” Knowles said. “We know that where people live and who they live with plays a big role in their likelihood of remaining clean or sober. We tell our patients to ‘live clean by living different.’ But it’s hard for some to live differently without living in a different environment. The Mountaineer Recovery Village will enable people to have at least one place they know they can live and be supported in their sobriety.”
According to the release, the neighborhood development would be a sober living community with mixed-living accommodations of apartments, townhomes and small single-family homes where at least one member in each home would have to be in recovery.
As previously reported, the community would include a number of accommodations to its residents such as a fellowship hall for 12-step meetings, Smart Recovery and other support groups in an effort that the center said it hopes works to create a culture that supports long term sobriety.
For more information on the center and its continuing growing services, visit mountaineerrecovery.com.