Ad­dic­tion cen­ters open in South­ern Md.

An­napo­lis-based Project Ch­e­sa­peake plans an of­fice in Charles County by end of year

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By DAR­WIN WEIGEL dweigel@somd­ Twit­ter: @somd_bized­i­tor

While the state leg­is­la­ture and gov­er­nor bring more re­sources to bear on the prob­lem of opi­oid ad­dic­tion, a net­work of private clin­ics has been pop­ping up around the state, in­clud­ing in South­ern Mary­land.

One such or­ga­ni­za­tion, Project Ch­e­sa­peake, opened its first clinic in Prince Fred­er­ick on Mon­day, April 17, with plans to open the sec­ond South­ern Mary­land clinic lo­ca­tion May 1 in Leonard­town. The An­napo­lis-based group also is plan­ning a clinic some­where in Charles County by the end of the year.

The outpatient men­tal health and ad­dic­tion coun­sel­ing clinic’s Prince Fred­er­ick lo­ca­tion was wel­comed with open arms on Thurs­day (April 13) by a host of lo­cal of­fi­cials at a rib­bon cut­ting cer­e­mony. The clinic al­ready had five peo­ple on a wait­ing list for its pub­lic open­ing the fol­low­ing Mon­day.

“This is like a bless­ing and a curse all at once. It’s a bless­ing that they are open­ing this par­tic­u­lar busi­ness, but it’s a curse that they have to open this par­tic­u­lar busi­ness,” said Calvert County Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Tom Hejl (R) be­fore the rib­bon was cut on the new coun­sel­ing of­fice at 69 Sherry Lane. “We all know that we have a se­ri­ous [opi­oid] prob­lem in Calvert County, as we do in the state of Mary­land and all across this coun­try.”

Hejl also wished the busi­ness well, but not too well.

“I hope your busi­ness flour­ishes, to a point,” he said to a round of know­ing chuck­les.

Af­ter the cer­e­mony, Calvert County Cir­cuit Court Ad­min­is­tra­tive Judge Mar­jorie L. Clagett, who was in­stru­men­tal in get­ting the county’s drug court up and run­ning a few years ago, said she’s glad to see more drug ad­dic­tion re­sources com­ing into the re­gion.

“It’s sad that we need to open more of these fa­cil­i­ties, but we are in desperate need of fa­cil­i­ties such as Project Ch­e­sa­peake,” Clagett told The Calvert Recorder. “We need outpatient re­sources right down the street from our court­house, so it’s go­ing to be very con­ve­nient. To be able to have that re­source, lit­er­ally a stone’s throw from the court­house, is go­ing to be help­ful to the courts.”

Project Ch­e­sa­peake got its start in Septem­ber of 2014 af­ter Re­bekha Rogers, a li­censed so­cial worker, was work­ing with a fos­ter care pro­gram in Baltimore and saw that opi­oid ad­dic­tions were be­ing passed down from par­ents to chil­dren.

“A lot of the kids who were in fos­ter care, their par­ents were ad­dicts,” Rogers said. “It trick­led down to these kids. It made me think that we should get [to] the par­ents be­fore it be­comes a prob­lem with the kids.”

A cou­ple of years af­ter open­ing the first Project Ch­e­sa­peake of­fice in An­napo­lis, Rogers got help from her hus­band, Joe, and friend Eu­gene Shut­tle to be­gin ex­pand­ing. Joe Rogers had been work­ing in com­mer­cial real es­tate and Shut­tle worked at Deutsche Bank. They both put their ca­reers aside and set to work.

“In March of 2016, we only had one of­fice in An­napo­lis,” Joe said. “Here we are a year and a month later, we’ve got now An­napo­lis, Brook­lyn Park, Elk­ton, here (Prince Fred­er­ick) and Leonard­town [on May 1]. We’ve gone from one to five of­fices in a year.”

He said they’ve been tar­get­ing ar­eas of the state with fewer health re­sources to bring private ad­dic­tion and men­tal health coun­sel­ing where it’s needed.

“We went to Ce­cil County, in Elk­ton, and there were no providers. Peo­ple had to drive two hours to get help. So we started look­ing out in the [ru­ral] ar­eas, like Leonard­town,” Joe said.

“The goal is to have Queen Anne’s and Kent [coun­ties] and Charles County by the end of the year,” he added.

The clin­ics of­fer mul­ti­week group and in­di­vid­ual ther­apy in adult and ado­les­cent sub­stance abuse as well as DUI/ DWI ed­u­ca­tion or­dered by courts. The clin­ics also of­fer men­tal health, anger man­age­ment and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ses­sions and a “psy­chi­atric re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram” to help peo­ple func­tion as in­de­pen­dently as pos­si­ble, ac­cord­ing to a brochure.

“We’re strength­en­ing com­mu­ni­ties through ther­apy,” Re­bekha said.

“On the sur­face, we’re an outpatient be­hav­ioral health coun­sel­ing fa­cil­ity,” Shut­tle said, sum­ming up the breadth of the ser­vices of­fered. “Like [Re­bekha] said, we like to go into com­mu­ni­ties that have a lack of re­sources and pro­vide the re­sources that are needed.”

The clinic will have a 12-pas­sen­ger van to pro­vide free transportation to the clinic, and it’s a point of pride, Joe said, that they do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to sched­ule coun­sel­ing ap­point­ments the week the re­quest is made, even some­times that same day.

“If we ever get to the point where we can’t take more peo­ple quickly, we’ll hire more staff or get more space,” he said.

“We try not to turn any­one away,” Shut­tle added. “We ac­cept all in­sur­ance — state in­sur­ance. We’ll op­er­ate on a slid­ing scale if some­one can’t get in­sur­ance. So our goal re­ally is to serve ev­ery­one that walks in the door and not turn any­one away.”

Project Ch­e­sa­peake isn’t a methadone clinic for opi­oid ad­dicts, Re­bekha said, rather it’s a coun­sel­ing cen­ter that can also connect pa­tients with other ser­vices as needed.

“We don’t do methadone, but at our Brook­lyn Park lo­ca­tion we do pre­scribe subox­one,” she said, point­ing out they have a doc­tor on staff at that lo­ca­tion. “We also do psy­che meds there. The health de­part­ment here [in Calvert County] does subox­one, so we would link with them. We want to have part­ner­ships with other com­mu­nity re­sources.”

Hejl, who saw a lot of prob­lems caused by drug ad­dic­tion be­fore re­tir­ing from a long law en­force­ment ca­reer, told the crowd gath­ered for the rib­bon cut­ting that he was “ec­static” to see Project Ch­e­sa­peake open­ing in Prince Fred­er­ick.

“We need our so­ci­ety to get back to be­ing clean and pro­duc­tive,” he said. “It’s very dis­turb­ing that we have to have things like this, but I’m ec­static you all are here.”


Project Ch­e­sa­peake, an ad­dic­tion and men­tal health coun­sel­ing clinic, cut the rib­bon on its Prince Fred­er­ick of­fice Thurs­day, April 13, at 69 Sherry Lane. From left are Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Tom Hejl (R) and own­ers Joe and Re­bekha Rogers and Eu­gene Shut­tle.

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