The Star-Herald

AMHC will expand their mental health facilities and programs

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Aroostook Mental Health Clinic, which offers substance use disorder treatment in Limestone, will expand to 176 Academy St. in Presque Isle.

AMHC has outgrown its Residential Treatment Facility, nicknamed “The Farm,” in Limestone, and will move to Presque Isle in fall 2023. The substance use treatment program will expand from a 28-day to a 90-day program for people experiencing substance use disorders. Four residential counselors will be added to the current staff of 10.

AMHC’s Residential Treatment Facility in Limestone has 12 beds with some shared rooms, but the new location in Presque Isle will increase their bed capacity to 16 more private beds.

As the local substance use disorder problem increases, so does the need for treatment options. The expanded facility will help address that.

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, we’ve done what we can to try to do renovations at [the Limestone] site to make things more manageable for the service and the individuals there receiving service,” said COO of AMHC Michelle Ferris. “But we’ve done what we can and felt like a new facility would enhance the service in a way that we haven’t been able to deliver in the past.”

The renovation project began in mid-December with improvements to the sprinkler and heating systems of the 176 Academy St. location. Funding of $1 million in federal money came through the Health Resources and Services Administration from congressionally directed spending.

“Being in Presque Isle allows us to have access to those services more readily,” Fournier said.

Fournier said the program will be rolled out in three phases, with the first one offering services identical to what is at the Limestone location. In the second and third phases, patients will gain more independence while moving toward an interdependence by connecting through services in the surrounding community such as the Harvest Inn Peer Center in Caribou.

A new detox program will have two beds available in a separate part of the facility for people who experience drug and substance addictions. Fouriner said the separate quarters keep those just entering the program from causing those participating in the 90-day treatment program to regress.

“Currently we do not have detox. We ask people coming into treatment if they’re clean three to five days before admission and for those who can stay clean for three to five days it’s a miracle,” Fournier said.

Fournier hopes to get patients connected with local clinicians like the ones at North Light AR Gould Hospital, which would be right down the street from the Residential Treatment Facility.

“There are many different ways that people can enter recovery and residential treatment is one of those ways,” Ferris said. “Detox is when somebody goes through that acute withdrawal from the substance.”

Ferris hopes to improve AMHC’s collaborative and integrative care with the Residential Treatment Facility located next door to its Adult Crisis Stabilization facility at 180 Academy St., giving patients quicker access to crisis services should it be necessary while they are being treated at the new facility.

Other mental health clinics that offer substance abuse counseling, such as Wellspring in Bangor, will be able to make referrals to AMHC’s 90-day program in the new Residential Treatment Facility.

The Residential Treatment Facility has been operating since 1975. The Adult Crisis Stabilization was moved from 164 Main St. to 180 Academy St. in 2021 and has been open since 1994.

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