A Greenwood mental health and addiction treatment center has plans to expand in the coming years to meet a growing need for services for people addicted to opioids.

This week, Valle Vista Health System was named one of five newly designated opioid addiction treatment centers in the state, and will serve Johnson County, along with multiple underserved communities south of Indianapolis.

Valle Vista already offers treatment for people addicted to opioids, but that treatment is in high demand, and now officials are looking to expand multiple services, ranging from inpatient services to transportation and outpatient programs, said Al Bracken, director of business development for Valle Vista.

The state announced plans to expand opioid treatment programs, which includes services at Valle Vista, as part of a new state law that calls for the state to approve no more than five new opioid treatment programs run by a hospital or mental health center.

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Fourteen treatment centers are already open across the state. Four other centers were named in Allen, Vigo, Monroe and Tippecanoe counties.

In addition, Medicaid will also cover medications used for addiction treatment, such as Methadone, under the new law. The state’s division of mental health and addiction can also use money to fund grants and vouchers for mental health and addiction treatment services through community corrections programs, court programs, probation and diversion, community mental health centers or certified mental health or addiction providers. Residents would be eligible for the treatment if they meet certain criteria and can not get the treatment covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, the law said.

The newly designated treatment centers are placed across the state in counties where the need is high for services based on multiple factors, including overdose deaths, drug seizures by police and the use of Narcan, an overdose reversing medication, said Jennifer Walthall, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration secretary.

The state’s goal is to address addiction as a chronic disorder of the brain and use data-backed treatments, tailored to best help patients with their needs, she said.

In addition to using medications to treat addiction, centers will also use other resources, including counseling and support, she said. The state is focusing on education, treatment and enforcement, and then eventually will be able to work more on prevention programs, she said.

Treating opioid addiction has been a key focus of Gov. Eric Holcomb, who also spoke at the announcement this week. Since he became governor, he has created a department specifically focused on this issue and began looking for solutions, he said.

His wish is to help the people suffering from addiction to return to being productive people and address a problem that is impacting families, communities and businesses, he said.

Indiana is 15th in the nation for overdose deaths, and he continues to hear stories about how addiction is impacting Hoosiers, including that more than half of inmates sent to the Department of Correction test positive for drugs when arrested, he said.

“We’re not just going to be able to arrest our way out of this problem,” Holcomb said.

Empowering providers, such as Valle Vista, to be able to use multiple options to treat patients, such as Methadone or other medications, is an important piece of addressing the issue, Walthall said.

Being able to use Medicaid to cover that treatment is important for Valle Vista because it adds another option for how to best help patients, Bracken said.

But the Greenwood treatment center is also looking at multiple other options, including expanding to add more beds for inpatient treatment, expanding its outpatient treatment program, providing transportation and partnering with other organizations to address a significant need for housing, he said.

The facility currently has 132 beds, after recently adding another 30 for treatment, and officials are looking at ways to expand in the future, Bracken said.

But in addition to that, the Greenwood center also is looking to expand outpatient treatment programs, such as by providing transportation to patients, which is a huge need, he said.

And they want to partner with other providers and organizations to be able to meet multiple needs of their patients, from medical care to behavioral health programs and housing, he said.

Valle Vista sees the need everyday from the local community, especially since there is a lack of services south of Indianapolis reaching as far as Scott County, Bracken said.

At a glance

About Valle Vista Health System

What: A 132-bed treatment center in Greenwood focused on mental health and addiction treatment services.

Designation: The state designated Valle Vista as one of five newly designated opioid treatment programs across the state.

How it will change: Valle Vista will be able to help more patients, including by getting addiction treatment medications, such as Methadone, covered by Medicaid as the state is now allowing.

Future plans: Valle Vista also wants to expand its inpatient and outpatient services, including by providing transportation and partnering with other providers and organizations to meet patients’ needs, such as for medical care and transportation.

At a glance

About the law

Senate Bill 464, which was signed into law, is meant to help address mental health and addiction issues. Here is a closer look:

  • Covers Methadone and other addiction treatment medications with Medicaid.
  • States that addiction counseling, inpatient detoxification, case management, daily living skills, and long acting, nonaddictive medication may be required to treat opioid or alcohol addiction as a condition of parole, probation, community corrections, pretrial diversion, or participation in another court program
  • Allows the state division of mental health and addiction to approve before June 30, 2018, not more than five new opioid treatment programs run by a hospital, institution or certified community mental health center where there is a need.
  • Allows the state division of mental health and addiction to fund grants and vouchers for mental health and addiction forensic treatment services.
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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.