A local substance abuse treatment provider has merged with a community health center in an effort to help more people in the Region overcome drug addiction.
Frontline Foundations, with drug-treatment locations in Chesterton and LaPorte, has combined forces with NorthShore Health Centers, which has medical clinics in Chesterton, Hammond, Lake Station, Merrillville and Portage.
In the past, NorthShore had administered Vivitrol, a long-acting shot designed to reduce cravings for opioids and alcohol, to Frontline patients.
"We had a really good working relationship," said Allen Grecula, director of clinical services for Frontline Foundations, which is now considered a program of NorthShore. "We worked real well together, and we're all pulling in the same direction as far as what we're trying to accomplish."
Frontline Foundations uses evidence-based drug treatment counseling from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, and also incorporates art, music and cooking into its programming. NorthShore provides medical, behavioral health, vision and dental services.
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Grecula called the merger "an opportunity for Frontline to focus more on the program and focus less on things like insurance and billing, where NorthShore has entire departments."
Frontline Foundations has started offering drug treatment at the NorthShore location in Lake Station, with plans to expand the health center's other locations, including a new $18 million facility being built in Portage. A psychiatric nurse practitioner from NorthShore is now available at the Frontline location in LaPorte. Grecula noted that it would otherwise take months to get in to see a psychiatrist, and that people addicted to substances often have undiagnosed or untreated mental health disorders.
He said the union allows Frontline to take a more holistic approach to treatment.
"When we talk about addiction, it doesn't just impact the person at the level of substance abuse but affects all areas of the individual, certainly physical health as well," he said. "So being able to work with NorthShore now, it's a resource that is under the same roof, other than saying, 'You should go for primary care, here for mental health, here for substance abuse.'"