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York counseling service gets $500K for addiction treatment

Katherine Ranzenberger
505-5439/@YDKatherine
  • Pennsylvania Counseling Services was one of 20 Centers of Excellence chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
  • The center is set to receive $500,000 for new services over the next year.
  • The money came from a push by Gov. Tom Wolf for combating heroin and opioids in the state.

York City is now home to one of only 20 Centers of Excellence in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Counseling Service, located at 128 N. George St. in downtown York, was awarded $500,000 over the next year for the treatment of opioid and heroin abuse for those on Medicaid. The funding is set to start in October.

"Almost every family in the area and in the state has been touched by this," said Roy Smith, CEO of Pennsylvania Counseling Services. "I'm very positive about what this means for us. There are people who are really struggling in these communities. This will provide coaching that can reach out to them to help."

Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas tours Pennsylvania Counseling Services, 128 N. George St., with Dr. Trish Young, vice president of outpatient services, Monday, August 15, 2016.  John A. Pavoncello photo

Ted Dallas, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, said this money will help fund these centers that are in there with the people who need the most help.

"Most of the time, you'll get referrals for services," Dallas said. "Then we leave you to your own devices to get those services."

Crisis: This funding came from a push by Gov. Tom Wolf to tackle the heroin and opioid crisis that has taken hold on the commonwealth. In York County in 2016 so far, 22 people have fatally overdosed on heroin, while 22 more cases are awaiting final toxicology reports to determine the exact drug that caused the overdose, according to Pam Gay, county coroner.

Wolf, White House push for funding to fight heroin crisis

Pennsylvania Counseling Services was one of 116 centers that applied and one of only 20 that received a part of the grant. Dr. Trish Young, vice president of outpatient services, said the money from this grant will go toward hiring three or four more people to help guide addicts through the complicated system, which includes detox, recovery and staying clean.

"As many services as there are out there, it's still hard to navigate them all," Young said. "We can help with the step down from rehab and detox and help with housing issues and financial issues as well."

Holistic style: One of the issues Pennsylvania Counseling Services sees often is co-occurring issues, such as anxiety, depression or trauma-induced illnesses that the person is trying to treat through self-medication. Smith said he's happy to get this funding so the organization can help treat the underlying issues that might cause substance abuse.

"We're going to treat them in a holistic style," he said. "We'll also get the families involved so that they can support that person out there while they're getting the treatment they need."

Dr. Trish Young, vice president of outpatient services, leads a tour of Pennsylvania Counseling Services, 128 N. George St., for Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas on Monday, August 15, 2016.  John A. Pavoncello photo

Dallas said this is a new approach the entire commonwealth is headed toward. The treatment of underlying conditions is recommended by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"We're going to try to treat the whole person," Dallas said. "It's not just the substance-use disorder that causes issues. We're trying to address this in a different way."

This could be a part of the new warm hand-off program the York/Adams Counties Drug and Alcohol Commission is starting, Dallas said. The warm hand-off program would help addicts who come into the emergency room find assistance in treatment.

York County hopes to help addicts from OD to recovery

The York/Adams County Drug and Alcohol Commission should have the warm hand-off program fully running by the end of October, according to the timeline Warren and others have set.

York County also was  one of the counties to receive funding from the state to expand treatment centers, which will be used to expand the White Deer Run facility from seven detox beds and 16 rehabilitation beds to 21 detox beds and 48 to 50 rehabilitation beds.

Dr. Roy Smith, CEO and founder of Pennsylvania Counseling Services, 128 N. George St. greets Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas  , Monday, August 15, 2016.  John A. Pavoncello photo

Smith, who founded Pennsylvania Counseling Service in 1983, said he is hopeful for the future of the facility, which has already helped thousands of people throughout York County.

"It truly is an epidemic," he said. "This is a step in the right direction. This funding will allow us to kick things into a higher level."

— Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at kranzenberger@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDKatherine.