Mary­haven ad­di­tion of­fers short­cut to re­hab

The Columbus Dispatch - - Metro&state - By Rita Price

Emer­gency re­spon­ders twice snatched Mark Voils from the edge of death by over­dose. Both times, Voils went back to the drug that was killing him.

Be­ing re­vived after a lethal dose of heroin hadn’t felt like cause for cel­e­bra­tion or grat­i­tude. It felt like be­ing pulled from a place of peace and ease and trop­i­cal, al­most mag­i­cal, warmth. “Next thing you know, you’re in Alaska,” he said. “You’re cold and shiv­er­ing. You’re sick.”

The time be­tween over­dose and re­lapse can pass quickly, Voils and others know, but it also of­fers a unique op­por­tu­nity. Get­ting ad­dicts into treat­ment fast — of­ten by way of the same emer­gency crew

that saved them — is at the heart of the new Mary­haven Ad­dic­tion Sta­bi­liza­tion Cen­ter.

Mary­haven gave state and com­mu­nity lead­ers an early look at the 55-bed cen­ter, which could start re­ceiv­ing pa­tients as soon as next month, dur­ing a rib­bon-cut­ting and tour Wed­nes­day. Voils, clean for more than six years and now man­ager of ad­mis­sions at Mary­haven, was among those who spoke at the event.

Mayor An­drew J. Ginther hailed the sta­bi­liza­tion cen­ter as “the first of its kind in the coun­try.”

Mary­haven worked with the Al­co­hol, Drug and Men­tal Health Board of Franklin County, which is in­vest­ing about $7 mil­lion in the cen­ter, and other pub­lic and pri­vate sup­port­ers.

“From con­cept to com­ple­tion, this project took just seven months,” Ginther said.

The cen­ter’s triage, detox and other treat­ment ar­eas will op­er­ate on two floors in the Se­lect

Spe­cialty Hospi­tal build­ing at 1430 S. High St. on the city’s South Side. An open house for the pub­lic is set for 4 to 6 p.m. Fri­day.

Shawn Holt, Mary­haven’s pres­i­dent and CEO, said the cen­ter is des­per­ately needed to take pres­sure off of hospi­tal emer­gency rooms and to pro­vide more and faster chances for re­cov­ery. Too many ad­dicts in the city, as through­out the state, wind up on wait­ing lists for treat­ment even after suf­fer­ing a near-fa­tal over­dose.

“We were turn­ing peo­ple away,” Holt said.

The drug abuse-over­dose-re­lapse cy­cle rages through­out the city, said Jim Davis, as­sis­tant chief in the Colum­bus Di­vi­sion of Fire. City fire­fight­ers are ad­min­is­ter­ing the opi­oid over­dose-re­ver­sal drug nalox­one, also known by the brand name Nar­can, eight to 10 times a day, he said. That’s dou­ble the rate of just a year ago.

“It’s a prob­lem that’s get­ting worse, not get­ting bet­ter,” Davis said. As many as 20 to 30 ad­dicts are re­vived mul­ti­ple times in just one year, he said.

Davis thinks the sta­bi­liza­tion cen­ter model is promis­ing. For ad­dicts who want im­me­di­ate help, fire­fight­ers will be able to trans­port to the new Mary­haven cen­ter. “They’ll be able to be brought to a fa­cil­ity where sta­bi­liza­tion can oc­cur, where the ef­fects of with­drawal can be man­aged,” Davis said.

The urge to use after re­ceiv­ing a dose of nalox­one is dif­fi­cult to man­age, as ad­dicts are jolted into im­me­di­ate with­drawal, said An­drew Moss, di­rec­tor of the Mary­haven Sta­bi­liza­tion Cen­ter. “It takes over in­stantly, and it drives ev­ery­thing they do,” he said. “Now, if they’re OK med­i­cally, they’ll be el­i­gi­ble to come here.”

Voils, who lives in Hil­liard with his wife and three chil­dren, is 31, about the same age his brother was in 2015. “He died of a heroin-fen­tanyl over­dose,” Voils said. “I can’t help but think that one of the Nar­can kits be­ing dis­trib­uted to the pub­lic now might have saved his life.”

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