Upscale rehab center Swift River to offer more beds, accept MassHealth
CUMMINGTON — An addiction treatment center that opened last fall with a license for 48 beds got a green light from the state last month to make 112 beds available.
Swift River, a high-end drug and alcohol treatment campus surrounded by woods, is also about to start accepting MassHealth, the state's Medicaid insurance.
"It is new for our company to start taking government-subsidized health insurance," said Swift River CEO Matt Love. Love said the state required it, but said the company had also wanted to begin accepting it.
Love said Swift River is still working out the billing process, which should be ready in about one month.
Love also said Swift River, which is owned by Addiction Campuses, is no longer under a provisional license to operate, and as of September has a two-year renewable license for Addiction Treatment Services — another name for detox — and Clinical Support Services, which covers residential treatment.The death of a client in January at Swift River put the campus under heightened state oversight. Love said he could not comment on the episode, but said the campus has met the state's requirements, allowing it to get the two-year renewable license.
"We have significant compliance now," he said.
The new beds will add 90 new local employees, bringing the number up to 200, Love added.
Swift River was in the news recently after a Memphis, Tenn., woman was given a full scholarship for the center's 30-day, $25,000 treatment stay. Carla Hiers is now recovering in Great Barrington after a harrowing overdose episode that was caught on film and got over three million views on Facebook. And Hiers said Swift River helped her kick a longterm heroin habit.
The company provides an assortment of evidence-based care to meet individual needs of clients. It also treats alcohol addiction and a range of mental health disorders. And it does all this on 500 acres of wilderness, giving it a unique, holistic approach, according to the company website.
This is the newest campus for parent company, Addiction Campuses. The company also runs rehab centers in Texas, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee.
Brian Sullivan, a spokesman for Addiction Campuses, said the reason to bring in more clients is simply overwhelming need in what is a national opioid epidemic, particular in New England. He said the company could fill many more beds if they had them.
"There is a great need in this state, as well as everywhere," he said.
Sullivan said the majority of clients at Swift River are from New England, and that the company hotline gets a large number of calls from the region.
Love said Swift River will help place anyone in need of treatment at either this campus or at another company or state-run facility.
"We'll work with anybody if they contact our call center, whether we can accept their insurance or not," he said.
Love, who has a hospital administration background, has been CEO since March, and said he's done a few things differently than former CEO Mark Lancet. He would not comment on why Lancet left.
Love said it was he who pushed for licensing more beds, as well as adding more programs and enhancing existing ones. He said this was to "meet the needs of the community and expand the expertise of staff."
Sullivan said it is unclear what kinds of co-pays might be required for clients who have MassHealth insurance, and that this is what the company is now trying to work out.
Depending on the patient's income level, MassHealth offers no-cost or low-cost coverage.
The company does give scholarships based on a number of client factors. And those scholarships, Sullivan said, are made possible by donors.
When asked whether treatment centers like Swift River are profiting from an escalating epidemic, Sullivan said it was the company's mission to help people conquer addiction.
"Our intention is not to capitalize on something like that — our goal is to put a dent in this epidemic the best we can."
"We would love not to charge anybody," he added, noting that very few people would be willing to work at Swift River for free.
Reach staff writer Heather Bellow at 413-329-6871.
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