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Business Finance Authority funds detox center infrastructure

NH BFA Senior Credit Officer Jeremy Stanizzi, AHEAD Housing Executive Director Mike Claflin, NH BFA Executive Director James Key-Wallace and Executive Councilor Joe Kenney (left to right) discussed infrastructure funding at Bethlehem's new detox center on Sept. 2. (Photo by Angel Larcom) (click for larger version)
September 08, 2021
BETHLEHEM — Recent funding support from the NH Business Finance Authority allowed AHEAD Housing to increase capacity at Bethlehem's new detox center, formerly known as the Friendship House.

The $1 million BFA investment allowed AHEAD to replace old administrative offices with additional patient rooms and install a new central air system where one had not previously existed. According to AHEAD Executive Director Mike Claflin, an updated septic system is the last remaining element to increase facility capacity to fifty beds.

However, finding enough nursing staff to oversee the detox unit remains a problem for facility management company Amatus, Inc. The current patient capacity will remain at 34 until enough qualified nursing staff can be hired to oversee programs.

"Amatus has had a hard time locating nurses, especially for the second and third shifts. But if anyone can make it work, it's this company. They know it's a long-term process," noted Claflin.

When AHEAD Housing first built the treatment facility in 2017, the maximum capacity was 28 patients and no medical detox services were available. It remains the only drug treatment facility in the North Country and the only one within an 80-mile radius.

"This facility has been an important part of the community for a long time, and it's gone through a number of evolutions. Because of its ups and downs, no banker would do what needed to be done," stated BFA Executive Director James Key-Wallace.

In October 2020, the North Country Health Consortium announced plans to suspend programming at the Friendship House in Bethlehem. The facility closed in mid-Dec that year.

AHEAD Housing quickly entered contract negotiations with Amatus Recovery Centers, a Maryland-based recovery company with 14 treatment centers in New Hampshire, Georgia, Texas, Ohio and several other states. While management hoped to reopen in April, state licensing procedures delayed the process, and the facility didn't resume operations until two months ago.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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