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In Response to Community Need, A New Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Is Coming to Eastern Connecticut

October 24, 2022

With rising numbers of people addicted to opioids and alcohol — and a lack of residential treatment options — the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network (BHN) is moving forward with a first-of-its-kind facility that will improve access to substance abuse treatment.

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Because of community need, Hartford HealthCare (HHC) recently approved funding for The Ridge Recovery Center in Windham. The facility will be run by Rushford, HHC’s addiction services arm and a leader in substance abuse treatment for the past four decades.

This would be the final piece of the behavioral health puzzle in Eastern Connecticut, where HHC partners Backus Hospital and Natchaug Hospital offer an array of inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services. Together, the three facilities, along with other BHN entities, will provide coordinated, integrated care for those with addiction and mental health disorders – a combination that is quite common.

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“The Ridge will provide needed access to treatment for clients 18 years of age and older diagnosed with an addiction disorder,” said Justin Sleeper, RN, vice president of patient care services at Rushford, who is overseeing the project. “This is a priority in nearly every community needs assessment that we do. Opening The Ridge will increase our capacity by adding 18 withdrawal management beds (detox) and 38 residential beds.”

Through community health needs assessments, HHC identified the need for residential substance abuse treatment. To provide better access to this care, it purchased the 38,605-square-foot building at 289 Windham Road, a former Catholic Church retreat. Renovations are underway and it is expected to open sometime in 2023.

One of its many draws is that it sits on a 55-acre wooded property off Route 32, offering the privacy that many patients want. The facility will include private rooms with their own bathrooms, a gym donated by Planet Fitness, nutrition services, a dining hall, group therapy space, alternative/holistic therapies and more.

“While The Ridge will offer many amenities in a private setting, our focus is high quality, evidence-based care with an emphasis on integrative and wellness medicine practice,” said J. Craig Allen, MD, medical director at Rushford and vice president of addiction services for the Behavioral Health Network. At The Ridge, people will get coordinated, integrated care from some of the leading experts in the country, and it will be ‘in network’ care for most insurances, so much more affordable than some of Connecticut’s other providers.”

Care will be affordable and covered by most insurances, including Medicaid unlike many of the for-profit ventures that are typically advertised.

Rushford is working with the HHC recruiting team to hire for current vacancies and positions that will be needed at The Ridge. The 70+ employees that are expected to staff the facility will likely provide an economic spark as well, especially for downtown Willimantic businesses.

“Our communities face many challenges when it comes to the opioid epidemic and alcohol abuse,” said James O’Dea, PhD, senior vice president of the Behavioral Health Network. “The Ridge will help us provide the right treatment, at the right place and at the right time. It’s going to be a game changer – for our organization, for our community and especially for the people who depend on us for care.”

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The Behavioral Health Network provides the full continuum of both mental health and substance abuse recovery services, personalized to the needs of every client and integrated with their primary care health needs.

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