MANCHESTER, NH – Easterseals New Hampshire will no longer run residential substance use disorder treatment services at its Farnum Center North campus in Franklin as of Nov. 13, according to President and CEO Maureen Beauregard.
In an emailed statement shared with Manchester Ink Link Monday, Beauregard said the Farnum Center in Manchester will continue operating with all current services, and the Franklin patients currently enrolled will continue to receive services, but that Farnum will no longer accept new patients at Ray House and Webster Place in Franklin.
Easterseals NH will also be divesting of its Maine affiliate organization and ending its military and veteran services at its Vermont affiliate.
The organization’s Board of Directors approved the new strategic plan “created by staff across the organization” this week.
“It became apparent to those working on the plan that Easterseals needed to make some difficult decisions about our programs,” Beauregard said.
Over the last several months, the organization has been focusing on coming up with a plan to adapt to financial and staffing-related issues brought to the fore by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Beauregard.
“Issues hiring and retaining staff, prioritizing safety by capping the numbers of those served, and the desire for more community-based services such as telehealth have informed our decision-making,” she said.
The changes will affect 28 staffers in Farnum North, five people in Maine and three people in Vermont, but Beauregard said workers will still have a job in any of the many staff vacancies and new positions they’re hiring for.
“We are working with all staff impacted to facilitate their move to other roles within Easterseals New Hampshire if they wish,” Beauregard said.
In a phone interview Monday, Beauregard said nobody will miss out on services as part of this change, as folks will have many treatment options when they access the statewide Doorway program for addiction help.
During the pandemic, residential treatment facilities everywhere had to decrease their patient count in order to safely space out residents, so the Franklin facilities were not at their 21-bed and 42-bed maximum capacities over the past several months, which resulted in diminished revenues
Still, Beauregard cautioned that the decision was not made hastily due to any major financial strain.
“This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to something bad,” she said.
Easterseals NH will continue to focus on the services it does best, Beauregard said, including child welfare services in Vermont and New Hampshire, the veteran services in New Hampshire and the 77 residential beds, outpatient services, medication-assisted treatment, detox and therapeutic services at the Farnum Center in Manchester.
It will also soon offer 24/7 coverage for its substance use programs, Beauregard said, add more care coordinators and greatly expand its telehealth offerings, which she said providers and clients are now “lightyears” more comfortable with given recent forays into the virtual care space during the pandemic.
New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Jake Leon said the state is aware of the development.
“Easterseals formally notified DHHS last Friday of their plans to close the Farnum Center’s substance use disorder treatment program in Franklin,” Leon said. “We are working to understand and address the impacts of this decision. While Easterseals has committed to ensuring the individuals currently receiving services in Franklin will be able to complete their treatment program, any reduction in services in the State’s SUD system is concerning.”
NAMI NH Director Ken Norton said they are sad to learn of the decision to phase out the Webster Place facility in Franklin.
“The Farnum Center’s programs there have provided important medical detox, as well as inpatient and outpatient services,” Norton said. “These programs successfully assisted many people in the Granite State achieve and maintain sobriety.”
Beauregard said the plan is to find other organizations to take over their out-of-state programs, and will walk away when that transition is complete.
Once the current patients in Farnum North complete their treatment, the facilities will be fully closed. Beauregard said there are several other buildings in that campus, which is owned by Easterseals, that are still vacant, so she would like to find a way to make sure the campus is used to its fullest potential.
“We’re holding an asset and we need to figure out are we going to keep it or not?” Beauregard said.
The Farnum Center in Manchester was started in 1981 and it became part of Easterseals in 2008, and received a $1.1 million makeover in 2012, according to the organization’s website. The Webster Place Recovery Center in Franklin was created by Common Man restaurateur Alex Ray at the former Daniel Webster homestead. Ray approached Farnum about merging in 2010.
The Franklin facility was renovated and expanded in 2015, to the tune of $2 million, and a new building next door called Ray House, named after Alex Ray, was opened the following year to treat women, following a $280,000 renovation, nearly half of which was donated by Ray. In 2016, the state licensed 63 in-patient treatment beds between the two Franklin facilities.
The openings and expansions were hailed by state and local officials as key steps toward increasing the state’s capacity for substance use treatment amid the ongoing opioid addiction epidemic.
“Farnum North started when there weren’t as many providers as there are now,” Beauregard said.