No more secrets: AlcoCare to host open house Wednesday
JANESVILLE This summer, a grieving woman complained to The Gazette about the scarcity of addiction treatment services in Rock County. Her brother had died a year earlier of a heroin overdose after battling addiction for years.
Tom Bolan couldn’t even read the article.
He’s not squeamish about addiction, he’s frustrated by the limited knowledge the community has about AlcoCare, an eight-bed residential treatment facility for people in early recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol.
“People don’t even know that AlcoCare exists,” Bolan said. “If we are going to do something about addiction, we have to get the community involved.”
Bolan has been the AlcoCare director since February. Now that the staff is getting settled into a “new” facility on South Jackson Street, Bolan is working to change public awareness of services by hosting a public open house.
“In the past, this has been a very secretive kind of place,” he said. “That’s not protecting privacy and confidentiality. It’s not helping fight addiction.”
Until as recently as 2011, AlcoCare was providing services in two Janesville facilities. The nonprofit lost its lease on one of the properties when the owner fell into foreclosure proceedings.
Currently, AlcoCare is operating out of a large, historic building on South Jackson Street. The building has been a residential treatment center or a bed and breakfast for decades, Bolan said. With its elaborate leaded windows and original built-in bookcases, the building used to be the site of Rock County’s Jackson House, a crisis stabilization facility.
Bolan hopes his leadership can turn the page on recent negative events in AlcoCare’s long Janesville history. In 2011, board members heard allegations of unethical relationships between staff and clients, board member Sue Schumacher said at the time. Also discovered were bookkeeping discrepancies that Schumacher said were eventually turned over to the Rock County District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors reviewed the case and decided against filing criminal charges. An allegation of an excessive salary paid to one employee could not be proven because AlcoCare had no documentation of what the salary was supposed to be.
AlcoCare’s board terminated some employees, developed a “plan of correction” and approached officials at the Rock County Human Services Department, the source of most of AlcoCare’s clientele and revenue.
The county, for a time, referred clients to other facilities but continues to work with AlcoCare, Bolan said.
Bolan said he has experience and skill in the business end of running a treatment facility. Hosting an open house is one example of how AlcoCare will be operating differently than in the past, he said.
Opening AlcoCare’s doors to the public could be the best way to clear any lingering negativity from AlcoCare’s recent past, Bolan said. He also hopes it will encourage the Janesville community to think of addiction as a community issue rather than individual issue.
Bolan said he hopes community involvement might lead to sponsorships or grants as new revenue streams. In the past, AlcoCare has relied almost solely on county funding, and the amount of the funding seems to have been based more on habit than on the cost of services, he said.
“It’s not surprising they had some struggles,” Bolan said.
The average cost of a 30-day residential treatment is between $9,000 and $16,000, Bolan said.
Rock County historically has been paying $4,500 for 30 days, he said. AlcoCare could seek $6,000 the next time the parties negotiate a contract, Bolan said. That price would better reflect the cost of treatment but would remain a “family friendly price,” he said.
Private health insurance plans typically don’t cover residential treatment, but many do cover outpatient treatment, Bolan said. Medicare, Medicaid and BadgerCare don’t cover residential treatment, he said.
One thing currently missing from AlcoCare’s services is a transitional living facility, Bolan said. AlcoCare used to provide primary and secondary treatment services in two facilities, including intense treatment for people early in recovery and stepped-down treatment for those who had been sober awhile.
Ideal would be a “sober house” where people could live safely until the time they were ready to go home or live on their own, Bolan said. Such a facility would create a recovery community in which people with months of sobriety could mentor those with less, he said.
Such mentorships build “a significant sense of hope” for people in recovery, he said.
For the time being, AlcoCare is filling some of that gap with outpatient treatment, including new women-specific recovery services, he said.
There were days when he was new to the director job that Bolan thought it might be better if AlcoCare shut its doors, he said. The cost of moving facilities, updating the license and making repairs to the South Jackson Street building were more than Bolan thought they could afford.
“The board members looked at me and said, ‘What’s it going to take,’” Bolan said. “So we’re going to do what it takes. Rock County and its residents can’t afford to lose a residential facility like this.”
IF YOU GO
What: AlcoCare open house
When: 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5..
Where: AlcoCare, 210 S. Jackson St., Janesville.
Details: Tour the new facility, hear about addiction treatment from local professionals and hear success stories from people in addiction recovery. AlcoCare staff members suggests discussions will not be appropriate for children.
For more information: Call 608-754-6800, email email@example.com or visit alcocareinc.org.