Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rehab center re-opening after yearlong hiatus

The Ralph Perdue Center is re-opening its residential drug and alcohol treatment program, the only one of its kind in Fairbanks, after a yearlong hiatus that forced some substance abusers to leave town for help.

Starting June 2, the center will begin treating patients again but the program will be smaller and nimbler than what was offered in the past, said Guy Patterson, director of behavioral health services for the Fairbanks Native Association, which operates the Ralph Perdue Center.

Patients enrolling in the new program will stay no longer than a month, Patterson said. The treatment program has eight beds, less than half the number of beds it offered before, although it is expected to grow to 16 beds next year.

“We’re trying to create something that will allow flow of treatment,” Patterson said.

The Ralph Perdue Center closed its residential treatment program last year due mainly to lack of funding.

Part of the problem was that patients with no means to pay for treatment were staying for extended periods of time, making it difficult for new people to get help.

Tanana Chiefs Conference has joined with FNA to operate the residential treatment program, which Patterson said is modeled after the Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers in Washington state.

Patients will go through four phases of treatment, described as denial, admittance, acceptance and surrender, Patterson said.

The program will touch on multiple facets of patients’ lives, including diet, exercise, sleep and controlling other compulsive behaviors.

The Perdue center’s residential treatment program is the only program in Fairbanks open to any adult. FNA offers two other residential treatment programs for adult substance abusers but each caters to a specific population, homeless people and mothers of young children.

Patterson said he has a waiting list of 14 people who want to enroll in the residential treatment program, although none are confirmed.

Sharon Walluk, a regional behavioral health specialist for the state, works with area substance abuse and mental health providers. She expects the center’s eight beds to fill up fast.

Fairbanks is a hub for the Interior, Walluk said, serving other communities, including Nenana, Tok and Galena.

“It’s needed,” she said.

The executive director of the Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health Center, some of whose clients suffer from addiction on top of mental illness, agreed that Fairbanks needs a substance abuse treatment center.

“We’re very excited that it’s opening,” Gail Atchison said.

Patterson said the second-floor rooms inhabiting the program have been painted. Security measures, such as mirrors mounted on the ceilings, are being added, and the rooms are being professionally cleaned.

An open house is scheduled for Wednesday from 2-6 p.m. at the Ralph Perdue Center at 3100 South Cushman St. Tours will commence and refreshments will be served.
source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

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