Centre County addiction treatment providers tell the state they're struggling with retention
Substance use disorder treatment providers in Centre County say they’re struggling to keep staff, even as the level of need continues to increase.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs hosted a roundtable discussion Wednesday in State College as part of a statewide tour.
Cathy Arbogast, a drug and alcohol administrator in Centre County and one of the attendees, said people in treatment benefit from having the same counselor over a long period of time. But she said many are having to start from ground zero as more therapists leave the field.
“Whether it's tuition reimbursement, whether it's higher pay, whether it's getting rid of paperwork, whether it's making it easier for them to do the non-therapy side, whatever we have to do to get them to stay, we need to do it because they're tired of it," Arbogast said.
Zachary Fremberg, who is in recovery, said he’s been fortunate to have the same drug and alcohol counselor for a year and a half who knows his story and needs.
“If I had to start that over with somebody who didn't know how I got to where I am, that could be a potential relapse at that point for me," Fremberg said.
Morgan Gheen, who also attended the roundtable event, is a DUI Court Case Manager for the county, but used to be an outpatient provider. She said raising the staff-to-patient ratio would drive away more people, especially parents like her who would have to do more paperwork at home.
“I have two small kids. And I'm saying give me five minutes to finish this note, give me five minutes to finish this treatment plan. I promise I'll play with you when we're done. And that's what we're seeing all over the place with our providers. And that's why it's so hard to keep people and that's why I will adamantly sit here and say raising that limit is like signing the death certificate to keeping people in this field," Gheen said.
Care providers also said there’s not enough access in rural communities, and suggested a model similar to a mobile clinic.
The state’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs is gathering feedback on this statewide tour and through an online form to create a plan to update regulations and improve the patient experience.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available. The national suicide prevention lifeline is available 24/7 by calling or texting 988.
The Center for Community Resources also provides 24/7/365 Crisis Intervention Services for Centre County. The walk-in center is open 24/7. You can also call 1-800-643-5432 or text #63288.