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Rethinking needed on Lovett Center

The Union editorial board

We confess to being surprised when the Board of Supervisors this week decided to turn control of the county’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation center to a nonprofit from Placerville.

We had thought that if the bid from Nevada County’s own Community Recovery Resources could come even close to the dollar amount of other bidders, CORR would be a shoo-in.

That’s because CORR, over the past 30 years, has built itself into an organization that is not only strong financially, but has achieved its core goal of the long-term success of its patients. Both are crucial assets in a county beset by budgetary threats from Sacramento and a growing methamphetamine crisis.

CORR currently serves more than 650 clients a week in Grass Valley and Truckee: adults, adolescents and families on an outpatient basis; women with children at Hope House; a 24-hour crisis telephone service; and a “live” Web site (www.corr.us).

The supervisors seem to have rubber-stamped the recommendation of a citizen panel, but we think there are more questions that need to be asked.

For instance, CORR’s plan offered to run the Lovett Recovery Center for $374,000, and for another $11,000 recommended the addition of on-site detoxification services and transitional step-down treatment for those needing extra supervision to ensure long-term recovery.

The successful $360,000 bid, from Progress House of Placerville, offered no detox or transitional treatment – because, its director said, Nevada County didn’t ask for it. He offered to convert a couple of Lovett’s beds for detox. But unless a transitional home is opened here, patients coming off treatment will have to go to one of Progress House’s facilities in Placer or El Dorado counties.

Robert Erickson, director of Nevada County’s Behavioral Health Department, said the decision was not about money. But considering that the county’s spending on Lovett will drop from more than $500,000 a year to $200,000 (with the rest of the $360,000 coming from clients or referral organizations), there is little doubt that treatment on the cheap was of major concern.

(That was confirmed by a member of the citizen panel, who said that since Progress House was bigger than CORR, it could better withstand further budget slashes.)

We are not questioning the thoroughness of the citizen panel, all of whom are very knowledgeable. But we worry that a program that does not put the highest emphasis on long-term recovery may not be the best one for Nevada County.

We know that CORR has a record for recovery rates that are twice the national average, thanks to a system already in place here that includes a medical director and psychotherapists to treat both clients and families.

With rising concerns about the meth epidemic threatening to infect every corner of our county, it would be worth the supervisors’ time to take a closer look at which program would be most successful for its citizens – not just a Band-Aid to get the Rood Center out of a financial squeeze.


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