Funding an unmet need

Michigan Health Endowment Fund awards funding to Great Lakes Recovery Centers

A hug is shared outside the Great Lakes Recovery Centers’ Adolescent Services Center in Negaunee. (Courtesy photo)

MARQUETTE — Great Lakes Recovery Centers Inc. was recently awarded a $167,431 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment fund to implement residential psychiatric services at their existing Upper Peninsula residential facility for adolescents with substance use disorders.

This grant and its implementation will help fulfill a major unmet need in the Upper Peninsula, said Great Lakes Recovery Center Chief Executive Officer Greg Toutant.

“We’re really intrigued about the possibility of filling an unmet need in the U.P.,” Toutant said. “And that unmet need is surrounding the absence of adolescence residential psychiatric services.”

The addition of primary mental health services will expand the scope of services offered at the adolescent residential facility in Negaunee, which is a “unique facility in that there isn’t another option of its kind of really north of Clare,” he said.

Toutant said the need for local services of this type is illustrated by the fact that “often the case is that the only option available for children in the U.P. is to be sent to either Grand Rapids or Detroit, which is extremely geographically challenging and it’s not good care when you can’t have services at a local level.”

A resident of the Adolescent Services Center participates in equine therapy, one of many supportive therapies offered by the center to aid teens on the road to recovery. (Courtesy photo)

The project, which Toutant said was developed after years of “trying to figure out how we help meet some of the unmet needs around mental health services for adolescents,” seeks to offer expand the services offered in the area with an integrative, cost-effective approach.

“Because of the shortage of available community based adolescent psychiatric placements, our hope is to not reduplicate the cost of a new facility development but rather to do this in an integrated capacity with an existing substance use disorder residential program,” Toutant said. “So we feel like through the spirit of integration, we can help meet some unmet needs.”

With the integration of services for mental health and substance abuse, the facility will be able to provide comprehensive care for a wider population, Toutant said.

“We want to be able to serve children in a way that provides comprehensive care, regardless of what their presenting issue is,” he said. “So that while they may be identified as having a substance use disorder or a mental health disorder, that disorder doesn’t define them as human beings, we want to provide a balanced holistic care.”

The first phase of the grant, which was awarded earlier this month, is the planning phase, slated to begin this fall, Toutant said.

“It’s a two-fold process for our award, the first part of that is the planning grant phase in which, from a six-month or slightly longer timeframe, we’ll be able to have dollars appropriate to form that grant to really work with folks in the field and consultants around program design.”

The implementation phase, which will be a pilot of the new services, will follow the planning phase and will likely begin this spring, he said.

Tele-psychiatry, which will help to address some of the provider shortages in the area, will be a major “a very important component to making this project work,” Toutant said, noting that there will be a “balance between local providers and tele-health providers.”

The residential facility, which has been in operation for 35 years, already offers integrative care for adolescents who have substance abuse disorders, Toutant said, noting “we try to be very multi-dimensional because there’s no singular pathway that anyone has in relation to recovery, we what to expose adolescents to a wide range of opportunities and service s to make the biggest impact possible in their life’s”

“What we have on-site, is a combination of services that include having onsite school in partnership with (Marquette-Alger Regional Education Service Agency), we have various modalities of care to support addiction treatment and those range from recreation therapy to equine therapy service learning, individual and group consoling, and health and medical services”

They also offer neurodevelopmental trauma assessments, he said.

“It’s a specialized diagnostic and testing program in which there’s a multidisc team that does trauma based diagnostic assessment to really determine the impact that trauma has had in the scope of a child’s life,” Toutant said. “So we look at how has trauma impacted the emotional and cognitive functioning and then what do we do with any defined deficits that a child or adolescent might have based on trauma.”

Toutant said the organization is thankful that the Michigan Health Endowment Fund chose to support the project, noting the project is “a little different than some of the other trad proposals, theres quite a bit of innovation involved with this request.”

“To have their support and partnership on this project has been very,very critical,” he said.

The funds awarded to Great Lakes Recovery Centers Inc. are part of $5 million to 14 organizations across Michigan that are working on innovative behavioral health program for children and older adults.

For those who would like more information on the services offered at the Negaunee residential facility, call 906-228-4692 or visit www.greatlakesrecovery.com.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.