Category: Press Release

AMHC’s New “Maine Mothers’ Network” Program Can Help Pregnant and Parenting Women Affected by Substance Abuse

AMHC urges pregnant and parenting women who use drugs or alcohol to call the Maine Mother’s Network (MMN) 24/7 referral line today.

Aroostook, Washington and Hancock Counties, Maine (Friday, May 29, 2019)— Aroostook Mental Health Services (AMHC) is urging women who are pregnant or parenting children five years of age and under to join a new, free program in northeastern Maine that can help them create a substance-free future for them and their children. The referral line for Maine Mothers’ Network is open 24/7 at 1-800-244-6431.

“Pregnancy is a time of hope for the future, and we know that for some women who use drugs or alcohol, the time can be a powerful force for change. Our goal is to help them gain access to needed services to attend to their substance use or become substance-free in order to give their baby the best possible start,” says Lorraine Chamberlain, LCSW, and Program Director at AMHC. “But we also know that breaking free of substances is both physically and mentally hard. Maine Mothers’ Network helps mothers with their unaddressed needs that are underlying substance use – helping them break the cycle of drug or alcohol use for good.”

In the context of an opioid epidemic that resulted in more than three hundred fatal overdoses in Maine last year, the program’s mission is even more urgent. Per the Maine Center for Disease Control, Maine’s per capita rate of substance-affected babies is the highest in the nation. Data from the Augusta-based Maine Children’s Alliance show that one in ten babies born in Aroostook County is born drug-affected, and this correlates with higher rates of infant death during the first year of life – a problem that is on the rise in Maine.

“This program is cost- and judgement-free,” says Chamberlain. “We want moms to call us, so we can help them get to the place they want to be. Our agency has helped thousands of people in Aroostook County recover from substance use over the past fifty years. We aren’t here to judge. We’re here to help.”

Each mom will be assigned a case manager who can help her with various needs – from health coverage, to healthy food for her and her baby, to help finding a place to live, high-quality childcare for her children, or get training for a better job. At the same time, moms will learn more about events from their own early lives that have led to the stressors that too often underlie high risk behaviors like substance use – and start the process of healing. National experts from the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) have recognized this program as an example of “evidence-based practice,” and skilled practitioners will be engaged using tele-health technology, ensuring that moms living in the country and small towns still receive first-class care.

Maine Mothers’ Network is offered through a consortium of partner agencies across the state of Maine, including AMHC, Crisis and Counseling, Day One, Tri-County Mental Health Services, and Wellspring. It is funded through the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

AMHC is a private, non-profit community health and social service organization with operations in Aroostook, Hancock, and Washington Counties, Maine. We offer mobile crisis response and stabilization, outpatient, behavioral health home, rehabilitation, residential, peer support, supportive visitation, case management, and educational services to meet the community’s mental health, substance use, and brain injury treatment and recovery needs. Our mission is to provide integrated healthcare services that maximize an individual’s potential to recover and improve their quality of life.

Downeast Treatment Center Sees Success with Hub and Spokes Model of Care

Date: 12/05/2018

Michael Murnik, MD, VP, Senior Physician Executive Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital stands outside the Downeast Treatment Center.

As the Senior Physician Executive for Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital, Mike Murnik, MD has seen the devastating effects of Maine’s opioid crisis first-hand. With opiate-related overdose deaths rising in the state over the last five years, Dr. Murnik knew there was a need for more treatment services in Hancock County and western Washington County, and a need to increase access to those services.

“People were dying,” Dr. Murnik said. “But it was really hard for them to get into treatment.”

It was a concern shared throughout the community. A series of monthly meetings began four years ago to discuss the crisis. Held at Ellsworth Town Hall, these meetings bring together law enforcement, healthcare providers, substance abuse counselors and other community partners who are attempting to mitigate the crisis. Through these ongoing discussions, they developed an idea: a treatment hub where people dealing with opiate use disorder could get stabilized and then move out into the community for maintenance and counseling.

In April, this idea became a reality: Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital, Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth, and MDI Hospital in Bar Harbor partnered with the Aroostook Mental Health Center and Healthy Acadia to open the doors of the Downeast Treatment Center to the community.

The Downeast Treatment Center provides outpatient treatment for patients with Opiate Use Disorder through a “hub and spokes” care model. At the Center – the hub – those affected receive counseling and medication assisted treatment (MAT). Once they are stabilized and improving, these patients are connected with primary care provider “spokes” in the community who can continue ongoing care, including MAT. As a result, treatment can be initialized more immediately, and the patient has more support as they taper off their medication, and after.

Dr. Murnik said this model is particularly helpful given the nature of the disease.

“The Center is set up to help with relapses which can be typical because this is a chronic, relapsing disease,” he said. “If a person falls off the wagon and starts using again, they can go back to the hub for stabilization, and then go back out to the spokes.”

After only seven months, several patients have been successful after entering the hub and progressing to the spokes.

“One graduate is now stabilized and applying for a job,” Dr. Murnik said. “And another is completely off of Suboxone. They’ve tapered off completely and are doing well so far.”

Dr. Murnik, however, acknowledges there’s still more work to be done. His team is leading other initiatives to fight this epidemic, including implementing a model for initiating treatment in the emergency room that was pioneered by Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut.
Dr. Murnik said ongoing community collaboration will continue to be vital in combatting Maine’s opioid crisis.

“Addressing this as a community is key,” he said. “This problem is as prevalent as diabetes, but there’s still such a stigma. We need to figure this out and continue to meet people where they are. We have to make it easier to provide treatment and medications.”

Dr. Murnik is up for the challenge and making positive changes.

“Our providers tell me that some of the most rewarding work they do is MAT, seeing people turn their lives around and get back to their families and back to work.  The DETC and the Hub and Spokes Program make it easier for providers to do that work and for community members in need to get into treatment.”

 

Source: https://northernlighthealth.org/Maine-Opioid-Crisis/Impact-Stories/Downeast-Treatment-Center-Sees-Success-with-Hub-an

AMHC Appoints New Board Members

left to right: Tim Doak, Debra Jacques, and Al Martin

Effective November 6, 2018, three new members will join AMHC’s Board of Directors serving as representatives from Aroostook County. Debra Jacques is the Community Relations Manager for Katahdin Trust; Tim Doak is the Superintendent of Schools of Eastern Aroostook RSU 39 for Caribou, Limestone and Stockholm, MSAD 20 for Fort Fairfield, and MSAD 27 for Fort Kent; and Al Martin is the Human Resources Manager for Twin Rivers Paper in Madawaska.

Greg Disy, CEO, states, “I am pleased that Ms. Jacques, Mr. Doak, and Mr. Martin have volunteered to serve on AMHC’s board. Each is an exemplary individual whose skills and experience will be an asset to our Board and I am confident that each of them will be excellent stewards of AMHC’s mission of service to our communities.

The Board of Directors is responsible for ensuring AMHC’s mission is fulfilled and provide oversight for AMHC’s services and business practices. Board Members must be a resident of the AMHC’s service area and interested and capable of contributing to the development of policies and programs of AMHC. The term of each new member’s membership is three years.

AMHC is a non-profit, 501(c)(3)organization incorporated in 1964. AMHC offers behavioral health, brain injury rehabilitation, and social services for individuals of all ages, serving approximately 6,000 individuals annually from more than 20 locations across Aroostook, Hancock, and Washington Counties.

AMHC Board Selects New CEO

With the imminent retirement of its current Chief Executive Officer, Greg Disy, AMHC’s board of Directors has selected Ellen Bemis as the new CEO effective January 1, 2019. Board President Athill Hebert states, “On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are pleased that Ellen Bemis has accepted the position as AMHC’s new Chief Executive Officer. Ellen is an exceptionally skilled and professional leader with successful non-profit management experience. She has a high level of commitment to meeting the health and social service needs of Aroostook County residents and extensive knowledge of the regulatory, fiscal, and operational accountability under which non-profit organizations function. We are confident she will lead AMHC with skill and integrity to fulfill its mission in the future.”

Ms. Bemis comes to AMHC having served for 20 years as the Chief Financial Officer of the Aroostook County Action Program and as a member and past president of AMHC’s Board of Directors since 2011. She began her career as a Certified Public Accountant with Newman, Noyes & Associates in Portland and David N. Felch, CPAs in Caribou and holds a Public Accounting degree from Husson College. Ms. Bemis is a native of Maine and resides in Presque Isle with her husband Frank and their three children.

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