BY DEBBIE PAGE
Integrated Health of Greater Hickory (ICGH) has expanded its integrated approach to recovery from depression, anxiety, trauma and addiction to the Statesville area by adding a new location at 523 Brookdale Drive.
The office offers treatment, peer support, telehealth and 12-step medication assisted treatment (MAT) at this location as well as through Fifth Street Ministries.
Dr. Corey Richardson, CEO and clinical director, said the expansion was guided by the increasing need for services, especially for those with opioid addiction.
Richardson, who holds a Doctor of Health Sciences degree and a Masters in Physician Assistant Studies, personally knows the ravages of substance use disorder after a decade of his own active addiction.
Richardson achieved recovery through a 12-step program and then dedicated himself to using his medical expertise to help others find recovery.
ICGH also offers its comprehensive medical, behavioral, pharmacy, transitional housing, transportation and toxicology services to patients struggling with addiction in Hickory, Shelby, Gastonia, and Lincolnton.
Most of the Integrated Care team, which includes licensed social workers and therapists, addictions specialists, counselors, peer support specialists, physicians and PAs, pharmacists, transitional housing managers in recovery, and other providers, are in recovery, which appeals to those seeking help at ICGH.
“There is no judgment here. Our employees have had lived experience with substance use disorder and finding recovery. That experience helps guide our clinical decisions as well — we are not limited to just an office-based setting,” added Richardson.
“We understand the issues through lived experience that they cannot teach in books.”
ICGH’s integrated approach, with a focus on recovery, treats substance use disorders, behavioral health issues and offers counseling, medication, MAT (Suboxone for opioid disorders, Vivitrol or Antabuse for alcohol addiction, etc.), participation in the recovery community through group meetings, and peer support.
“There is no stigma about MAT in our program. We offer suboxone so those in treatment do not get sick, but medication is secondary to counseling. They get behavioral interventions along with the medications,” said Richardson. “They titrate off the medication after they are stable.”
“Once they stabilize and learn coping skills, they can get their lives back again.”
ICGH seeks to promote self-sufficiency and pro-social life choices through effective person-centered education and counseling, training, and MAT programs along with wraparound treatment of the whole person.
Richardson also wants to decrease the stigma around drug use and addiction to get people into treatment. Substance use disorder is a chronic brain disease, but it can be treated successfully with counseling and peer support to improve self-esteem and mental health issues and with medication assistance.
Levels of care include accredited residential, detox, and employee assistance programs.
MEETING ALL NEEDS
Each patient intake begins with an examination of the person’s access to the social determinants of health because if inadequate housing, food, transportation, job skills, and other supports are lacking, recovery will be harder to attain.
They provide housing, transportation, medication, counseling, peer support, trauma counseling, coping skills, or a change of environment, assessing each patient as an individual who has specific needs.
Richardson said they also have great community and agency partners who work together to get the best outcomes for patients.
Relocating from their usual environment, particularly if homeless, often helps them achieve recovery. ICGH’s free housing helps them move to a safe environment and away from addiction triggers.
ICGH’s DAY ONE sober living housing program is more than just a shelter for those in addiction and homelessness or unstable housing situations. The program offers transportation to treatment appointments and meetings in the recovery community, employment and education assistance, life skills training, peer support, and a shared journey with other residents and staff with lived experience.
ICGH recently opened a recovery house for men seeking recovery in Statesville for six to eight residents in need of shelter and treatment services. Recovery homes for women are located in Shelby, Cherryville and Hickory.
They have a special focus on those re-entering the community after incarceration.
“We work with people where they are,” said Richardson.
They offer treatment-based support, counseling, MAT, random testing, and transportation to parole appointments.
“We’re a place to get your life back together,” said Richardson. Some clients stay in transitional housing but pay their own way while they get help with structuring their lives and receive mentoring as they re-enter society.
ICGH also offers free or no cost pharmacy services in house. Free medication-assisted treatment (such as Suboxone) and counseling are offered to the uninsured for those struggling with pain pill or heroin addiction.
ICGH additionally has free peer support services for all drug issues, including transportation. No insurance is required. Even if they are not ready for formal treatment, staff will help people with free referrals to any needed services.
They also offer free in-person MAT 12 Step outpatient treatment as well as online treatment meetings at https://www.medicationassisted12steps.com/.
ICGH peer support specialist Casey Tucker said that people do not need to be on medication or even in an ICGH treatment program to join the meetings.
“We just want you to be a part of the recovery community and get support. We become family, and it’s grown into something so beautiful.”
“We are growing our virtual meetings in North Carolina and even having people from out of state join.”
Right now meetings in Statesville are virtual, but they want to start in-person meetings if there is interest.
Methamphetamine addiction is a greater challenge to treat because traditional MAT does not work. They use an integrated process and higher levels of engagement with these patients.
“We have to give them meaning and purpose that is not related to drugs and help them get back to themselves,” said Richardson. “After we get them stabilized and get their brain to settle, then we can do the work.”
They engage at a high level with these patients for three to six months, with support lasting up to two years.
The organization also embeds peer support staff in shelters, with a county’s Department of Support Services, and in jails to reach those in need of treatment and support.
ICGH also offers free accredited training, including Crisis Intervention Training, and prevention services to healthcare staff, governmental agencies, and the community.
“We offer webinars and classes to teach best practices to help them understand brain disease. We form relationships with law enforcement so we can work together.”
They also offer the STAR early intervention program and community outreach to homeless populations, going to the encampments to take supplies and talk about mental health and SUD treatment and discussing the trauma that led them into this situation.
ICGH has received millions in federal grants from SAMSHA and the Health Resources and Services Administration to hire more full- and part-time peer support specialists, to offer free care for those in poverty, and to erect anti-stigma billboards.
“We partner with city, county, and state agencies to secure grant funding to improve communities across Western North Carolina,” said Richardson.
“We are a model of care because we focus on long-term recovery. We have had really good outcomes, which is why we get so much state and federal money.”
ICGH accepts nearly all insurance policies, including Medicaid and Medicare/Medicare Plans, but free addiction treatment is available for those without insurance.
Richardson also reminded folks that treatment and recovery saves money by reduced demand on emergency rooms, emergency medical services, and prisons when people enter recovery.
Learn more about ICGH at https://www.integratedcarehickory.com or call (828) 322-5915.