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C.O. rehab centers face staffing pressures as struggles with drug, alcohol issues on the rise

'More patients are coming in, and they're more severe'

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) -- BestCare Treatment Services offers drug and alcohol rehabilitation at facilities in Prineville, Madras, Redmond, Bend and Klamath Falls -- and like many businesses, they are being challenged by a lack of staffing, just as the need for such services rise.

Additionally, the need to follow social-distancing protocols has reduced their bed capacity, contributing to a longer waiting list than usual. 

“We had to reduce bed capacity to maintain COVID-safe distancing. So all our bed capacity is down by about 25%," BestCare CEO Rick Treleaven said Wednesday.

The rehabilitation center offers in-care and outpatient services to patients.

Treleaven pointed to an increase of patients that need care and said the centers don't have the bandwidth to help many more than they do already.

“People with severe addiction are using and drinking at a much higher rate, and they're the ones who have been most impacted by COVID social distancing problems," Treleaven said. "More patients in general are coming in, and they’re more severe."

Treleaven also said the rate of people staying engaged in services through 90 days in the outpatient setting has dropped from 80% to 60%, which means a drop in service effectiveness.

With most of the centers' outpatient program turned to remote methods, Treleaven said counselors became discouraged because the impact wasn't as meaningful with patients. That was one factor leading to resignations.  

With a now-smaller staff, assessments take much longer to carry out.

“Pre-COVID, we could get you in to an appointment within a couple weeks," Treleaven said. "Now it’s looking more like a couple of months, and that’s really because I can’t find enough counselors to fill the demand coming in.”

As a result of not having many options, Treleaven says child welfare systems are exploding, and more people in need of rehabilitation are coming in contact with health care systems -- and, unfortunately, the criminal justice system.

Article Topic Follows: Central Oregon
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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.

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