Community Partners Work Together to Secure Treatment Before the Holidays
Over the holidays, anxiety and stress often rises, especially for those that are struggling with substance use disorders and are homeless. Pioneer operates the Skagit Community Detox Center in Burlington, Washington, and the program director, Santana White (pictured left), shared a story of compassion and community partnership.
“They say ‘it takes a village’ and we are all so happy it worked out for Tom. It is so important to listen to your client’s fears and needs, and when possible, team up with community partners to make it happen.”
About the Center
Skagit Community Detox serves North Sound region residents for detox and provides services for residents who are experiencing a crisis related to their substance use disorders. Most of the services are available 24/7. The sub-acute detoxification services include ensuring a safe withdrawal from alcohol and drugs, providing substance use disorder assessment referrals and assisting clients to ensure after- care is arranged. The dedicated staff at Skagit Community Detox also help to coordinate treatment services and the center offers a seven-day Suboxone tapering program for opioid addiction.
Before the Thanksgiving holiday there was an unusually large rush of clients that came to the center all at once. Pioneer’s staff really rose to the occasion to try to meet everyone’s needs as fast as possible despite the Thanksgiving holiday week having a smaller staff onsite. However, one client, Tom, was overlooked in the immediate rush and did not get personal attention from the start.
“We had a big rush of clients coming into the program in need of detox services. Many wanted help before the holidays so they could be referred into treatment programs and all of our staff was scrambling to assist everyone,” said Santana White.
The average client has a five-day stay at the center and staff was behind in addressing Tom’s needs. It was the day before Thanksgiving and he needed to get into a treatment program before Thanksgiving or he was going to be discharged to the street.
Fast Action Plan
Tom was initially referred to the Skagit Community Detox after the police were called because he was seen intoxicated in public and walking into traffic. Tom was now starting to feel hopeless in the center because he feared he was going to end up back on the street. Time was of essence as the staff needed to get him into a treatment program before Thanksgiving.
“I met with Tom to assess his needs. I then decided to reach out to the Pioneer Center North residential treatment director, Rowell Dela Cruz, to see if he would have one of his substance use disorder professional’s (SUDP) complete an assessment and referral to treatment for Tom to help me expedite the services needed. I needed a fast action plan,” stated Santana.
Rowell had one of his SUDP’s complete Tom’s assessment to assist the Skagit team. Santana was able to fax the assessment over to a treatment center in Yakima to get approval and get him into treatment the next day – despite it being Thanksgiving.
Help from Community Partners
Due to it being Thanksgiving, Greyhound was closed, along with all of the other public transportation options that could transport Tom to his treatment program in Yakima. The team at Skagit Community Detox needed to get creative so they reached out to a community partner, The Hands Up Project, to see if they could help with Tom’s transportation needs.
Santana shared, “This was our last ‘Hail Mary pass’ as the only other way we could get him there would be if we drove him ourselves – but we had a slim staff already.”
To everyone’s joy, The Hands Up Project agreed that they could take Tom from Burlington to Yakima so that he could get into his residential treatment program and not be homeless on Thanksgiving day. It took a team of people working together - from Pioneer Center North to our community partners – but they all worked with Skagit Community Detox staff to make sure that Tom got into treatment with no gaps in care.
Hands Up also has clean and sober housing in southern Washington that will be an option for Tom. He will be able to work with his counselor towards getting connected with housing once he successfully completes his residential treatment program.
“They say ‘it takes a village’ and we are all so happy it worked out for Tom. It is so important to listen to your client’s fears and needs, and when possible, team up with community partners to make it happen,” Santana added.