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Farnum Center, Granite Pathways formally assume Safe Station treatments

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

February 01. 2018 11:47AM
In this photo from last May, Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan, right, and Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, walk a person seeking treatment next door to Serenity Place after he checked himself into the Safe Station at Manchester Central Fire Station. The Farnum Center and Granite Pathways assumed the responsibilities of the defunct Serenity Place on Thursday. (File/DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)



MANCHESTER — Two human service organizations — one the well-known Manchester-based Farnum Center, the other a Seacoast group with a little footprint in the Queen City — formally took over Wednesday as the providers for most of the drug users who seek help through Safe Station.


The announcement further signals the collapse of Serenity Place, the addiction-treatment organization that quickly ramped up in 2016 and 2017 to accommodate the Safe Station model. Late last year, state officials scrambled to put Serenity Place into receivership after it was unable to pay its bills.

Farnum Center will provide intensive outpatient services and outpatient treament services for Safe Station clients. It is also taking over the residential services associated with Safe Station.

The Seacoast-based Granite Pathways provides the first point-of-contact following a Safe Station visit. Non-clinical staff perform the state-funded Regional Access Point services that include screening, treatment referral, case management, recovery support and family support.

Although contracts were signed two weeks ago, the Safe Station model with Farnum Center and Granite Pathways went live at 8 a.m. Wednesday, said Tom Donovan, the state director of Charitable Trusts and a senior assistant attorney general. As of Thursday, Families in Transition is no longer involved in those aspects of Serenity Place.

“They were working on the transition over the past week, and now it’s official,” Donovan said. Donovan spoke at Hillsborough County Superior Court-North, where a judge is overseeing the receivership.

Families in Transition still operates the Hillsborough County Superior Court-North drug court, but that should transition to Elliot Hospital on March 1.

Participants said the new structure follows several meetings between treatment providers, Mayor Joyce Craig and Families in Transition, which was put in control of Serenity Place in late December.

“We all saw that this didn’t work, what we had before. We know what the pitfalls are,” said Dr. Cheryl Wilkie, senior vice president at Farnum Center.

Craig said it was clear that Safe Station will operate better with several organizations involved.

“One of the things we did identify through the process is that one entity such as Serenity Place can’t meet the needs of everybody,” Craig said.

Officials say locations and some aspects of Safe Station will change, if not already then in the coming months.

• Granite Pathways operates out of the Serenity Place space at the old Manchester police station but is looking for another location. The organization seeks a location near the Central Fire Station, where most people enter Safe Station, said Doreen Shockley, director of programs and services.

• Farnum Center will perform outpatient and intensive outpatient services at the offices it recently opened at Lake Avenue and Mammoth Road. Wilkie stressed that Farnum Center won’t be the only organization providing clinical services, and Granite Pathways will refer clients to other providers on a regular basis.

• The Stabilization Unit, a 16-bed wing of the Farnum Center, replaces Crisis Respite Shelter, the unlicensed dormitory-like shelter that Serenity Place operated on Pine Street. “We’ll start treatment right away. It’s a treatment program,” Wilkie said.

• Granite Pathways will be open until 11 p.m. every night, including weekends. That provides more opportunities for an initial screening and placement. People who enter Safe Station after 11 p.m. will be sent directly to the stabilization unit.

• Lyft drivers will provide transportation between Safe Station sites, Granite Pathways and Farnum Center.

Safe Station started in 2016 with the idea of using Manchester fire stations as no-questions-asked portals for drug users seeking help. Serenity Place ended up providing much of the non-clinical access point services as well as outpatient treatment. But financial problems emerged last year when New Hampshire officials stopped paying bills for service.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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