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The Brien Center will close its Keenan House for Women, which it calls unsustainable

keenan house for women

Just over four years after the Keenan House for Women opened its doors, the program will shut down. The Brien Center pointed to staffing issues and low enrollment.

PITTSFIELD — The Keenan House for Women, a 17-bed recovery program operated by The Brien Center, will close in January.

In a news release Tuesday, the center said staff vacancies and low enrollment made continuing to run the operation unsustainable.

The house has operated at 65 percent capacity, on average, in recent years, according to Christine Macbeth, president and CEO of The Brien Center. That meant the program has failed to meet its own operating costs for the past three years. 

The release also pointed to two crucial staffing vacancies, the site supervisor and clinical supervisor, which "put a considerable strain on the program."

Keenan House for Women opened in late 2017, as an expansion of the existing Keenan House for Men. At the time, the program had a waitlist, and some advocates said that the additional beds would not be enough to fill the county's existing need.

The house has 10 residents, and staff members are working to help them transition to another program or level of care, according to the release.

“These women have made great strides in their recovery. We will do everything possible to make sure they are appropriately placed so that their progress will continue,” Macbeth said.

“Some of them already intend to enroll in our Supportive Housing Program, which is a safe, affordable, and sober environment designed to reduce the chance of relapse and to promote adaptive living skills."

Macbeth also said the organization is confident that "most, if not all" the staff will remain employed at other Brien Center programs. 

According to the release, referrals of women to residential programs have declined over the past few years, putting strain on other programs as well.

"We know that residential treatment for women works and has transformed — and even saved — many local lives,” Macbeth continued. “We need a deeper understanding of why women are not seeking these services for help overcoming addiction.”

The Brien Center said it is considering expanding its programming for people with mental illness and substance use disorder, also known as co-occurring disorders. The organization runs Keenan House North in North Adams, a 16-bed house for people with co-occurring disorders, as well as the 24-bed Keenan House for Men in Pittsfield.

Francesca Paris can be reached at fparis@berkshireeagle.com and 413-447-7311, ext. 239.

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