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Harbor Homes addiction recovery program $400K in the red, but carries on in Nashua

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent

February 22. 2018 9:50AM




Peter Kelleher of Harbor Homes (Courtesy)

NASHUA — The same week that four recovery centers announced they will close, Nashua’s Harbor Homes says it will carry on despite a projected $400,000  deficit.

The local agency that operates Nashua’s Safe Station program is now making a plea for donations while stressing its commitment to keep the program operating.

“It is true that we are projecting approximately a $400,000 deficit in the Safe Stations program overall by June 20 if we continue on this same track,” Peter Kelleher, CEO of Harbor Homes, said on Wednesday.

There is currently about $1.2 million available to fund the Safe Station’s $1.6 million in expenses, according to Kelleher.

“If we can kind of get through this challenge that we are facing in the shorter term and work our way toward the fall, some of the federal resources should be able to kick in,” he said.

Serenity Place, a nonprofit that provided low-cost treatment to addicts who showed up at Manchester fire stations, fell into financial crisis in December and has now gone into receivership and bankruptcy.

Hope for New Hampshire Recovery announced this week that it will close recovery centers in four New Hampshire cities by the end of this month, including facilities in Concord, Franklin, Claremont and Berlin.

Kelleher said although Harbor Homes is currently in the red, it will survive.

“We need to be proactive in making some steps to maybe (adjust) the program in some ways from now until then to reduce some operating costs,” he said of the rest of the fiscal year.

Last year at this time, city officials contributed $50,000 to Harbor Homes after it faced a nearly identical deficit.

Mayor Jim Donchess said that since the city’s Safe Station program began, the number of fatal overdose deaths has declined. According to data provided by American Medical Response, 1,471 people have sought help through the city’s Safe Station program, with 1,311 of those individuals being taken to a substance misuse treatment facility.

The number of reported overdoses in the Gate City has decreased from 353 in 2016 to 294 in 2017 and 34 so far in 2018. In 2017 there were 37 fatal drug overdoses reported in Nashua, and so far this year there have been three.

More support from the state and Medicaid would be a huge help toward funding the program, according to Donchess.

Kelleher said Harbor Homes is applying for every possible grant available, and is reaching out to each town that sends referrals to the Nashua Safe Station program, asking for financial contributions.

“We are making a plea to any donors to assist,” said Kelleher, adding an online fundraiser will likely be launched to help offset some of the costs of the program.

A fundraising breakfast for first responders was held last week and garnered about $70,000 to help with Safe Station funding, and the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery recently approved $100,000 to assist with the program, he said.

Still, despite those extra dollars, a $400,000 deficit remains.

Kelleher said Harbor Homes’ expenses include paying drivers who respond within 10 minutes to a local fire station to assist clients in need of support; food services for clients; medical detox expenses; paying for temporary housing until beds are available so that clients don’t leave; evaluation costs and more.

“We have mostly folks that are properly credentialed and able to bill Medicaid. Part of it has to do with rate increases under the Medicaid program,” he said, explaining that items Medicaid covers in the state plan should be reexamined to ensure that all aspects of the Safe Station program are funded.

Federal resources are also being sought, said Kelleher.

“It is a pretty complex set of challenges,” he said.

khoughton@newstote.com


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