Paul Coleman is fairly direct when describing the enormity of the problem.
“In 2002, 38 percent of Maryhaven patients told us opiates were their drug of choice. In 2015, it’s 75 percent,” said Coleman, president and CEO of Maryhaven, central Ohio’s oldest and most comprehensive behavioral health provider specializing in treatment for addictive illness.
“That’s a very, very significant increase,” Coleman said, “and the reality is that the need for treatment exceeds the amount of physical space for every patient who needs help.”
Heroin is the key culprit. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine reported more than 20 Ohioans die every week from heroin overdoses. And the Center for Disease Control estimates the number of heroin deaths in Ohio increased about 300 percent from 2007 to 2012.
In central Ohio, Maryhaven cares for many seeking help. Last year, Maryhaven operated over capacity, with the addition of cots to serve more patients. For the year, the capacity ran over 108 percent in the detoxification unit, which is Maryhaven’s highest demanded service. “There are months we run over that,” Coleman said.
To address the growing need, Maryhaven embarked on a $2 million capital campaign to expand its physical space by 9,000 square feet. To date, $1.8 million has been raised, with major gifts coming from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation ($500,000), Nationwide Community Foundation, and the Crane Family Foundation ($200,000 each).
The soaring need coupled with the strategic move to expand caught The Columbus Foundation’s attention. Its 63-year history of success and innovative leadership helped earn Maryhaven the designation of being one of the Foundation’s “5 Nonprofits to Watch” in 2016.
“They are performing very important work for our community and addressing a critical need,” explained Lisa S. Courtice, Ph.D., the Foundation’s executive vice president, who noted Maryhaven also provides services to those suffering from gambling addiction.
Some 9,365 patients were served by Maryhaven last year at its nine locations in six nearby counties. With the expansion, an additional 350 patients will be served per year, if not more. The addition means Maryhaven will offer eight more beds for detoxification, four additional inpatient beds, and expand group rooms and offices for outpatient treatment of those with opiate addiction.
Coleman can’t say that the expansion will be able to meet the growing need.
“I have been in this business for 33 years, 25 of them here at Maryhaven,” Coleman said, “and I have never seen anything like the opiate epidemic. It’s driven by two things: The extreme addictive nature of opiates and the very, very low price of opiates due to oversupply.”
Maryhaven, based on Alum Creek Drive, was founded in 1953 as a halfway house for alcoholic women. It now operates in six central and north-central Ohio counties, including Franklin, Delaware, Morrow, Crawford, Marion, and Union. Of the 21 hospitals operating in those counties, Maryhaven ranks sixth in the number of patient days provided and first in occupancy—at 98 percent.
Expanding the facilities will generate more bed space – and more operating costs. Coleman said the money to fund the increased operating expenses will come through the ADAMH levy Franklin County voters overwhelmingly approved in last November.
“Being recognized by The Columbus Foundation is an affirmation of the work we do with our patients and therefore it is an affirmation of our patients,” Coleman explained. “Men, women and adolescents who recognize that they have a problem with addictive or mental illness and come forward for help is not always an easy thing to do. The fact we’re supported in this visible way by the seventh largest community foundation in the nation is a powerful statement to our patients who come to us at the lowest point in their lives.”