‘We’re specialized in detoxing them’

The Daily Astorian Feb 4, 2017

ST. HELENS — The basement rooms of a medical detox center may seem like a universe away from the world of Harry Potter and Harvard. The message on the bulletin board on a January afternoon, drawn in red marker, brought them closer together: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation in which I rebuilt my life.”

Nurses at Bridge to Pathways often write inspirational notes for patients going through the agony of withdrawal, reported The Daily Astorian. The quote from author J.K. Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard in 2008 is about the fringe benefits of failure, a useful lesson that can apply to struggling novelists as well as the addicted.

Bridge to Pathways, a nine-bed facility that opened in St. Helens in 2015, is the closest medical detox option for people in Clatsop County. The detox center mostly serves patients on the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s version of Medicaid, and concentrates on withdrawal from drugs or alcohol.

After they detox, patients can move into Pathways — a 16-bed residential treatment program upstairs — or other residential or outpatient therapy, but there is no requirement. Many residential treatment programs only accept private health insurance, often have high out-of-pocket costs, and do not offer a detox-only option.

“It’s meeting the client where they’re at,” said Kim Krause, the administrator at Pathways. “A client may not be ready to enter residential. They may think that they just need to be detoxed and then they’ll be stable and then they’ll be able to re-engage at home and in an outpatient facility.”

Krause said some patients may come into detox two or three times before they say, “It’s not working. Let’s do your way now.”

Patients usually stay at Bridge to Pathways for five to eight days.

“Your first two to three days, you’re pretty sick,” Krause said. “We give you meds. We make you comfortable. But you’re pretty sick.”

Nurses and support staff monitor the withdrawal process, with medical expertise in partnership through Oregon Health & Science University. A case manager works with patients on their next steps in recovery.

“We’re specialized in detoxing them. And we’re specialized in getting the clients where they need to go after detox,” Krause said. “That’s what we do here.

“We’re specialized in dealing with the grumpiness, the irritability, the yelling and the screaming, the tears, the sick. And we give it more of that one-on-one attention.”

Bridge to Pathways was conceived as a local alternative to detox options such as the Hooper Center and De Paul in Portland. The detox center is part of Columbia Community Mental Health and backed by the Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization, the umbrella for the Oregon Health Plan in Columbia, Clatsop and Tillamook counties.

“Anybody in recovery needs to do it as close to their home environment as possible,” said Jay Yedziniak, the compliance officer at Columbia Community Mental Health. “And detox is an important part of that recovery for some people.”