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Struggling drug recovery center taken over



Associated Press
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A judge on Wednesday approved the takeover of one of New Hampshire’s largest drug recovery centers, which has been facing financial difficulties.

The Hillsborough County judge approved that custody of Serenity Place in Manchester go to Families in Transition, which will oversee the nonprofit’s services.

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said in a news release that earlier this month, the department’s Charitable Trust unit received information regarding Serenity Place’s finances and investigated. Records show it has been operating at a deficit of more than $600,000 since July 1 and has a federal payroll tax liability of nearly $183,000.

Court documents say the complaint against Serenity arose out of severe cash flow difficulties caused by “faulty or absent billing for Medicaid services provided to clients,” as well as other deficiencies.

“Serenity Place provides critical services, including residential treatment, outpatient treatment, respite, and recovery to those with a substance use disorder,” MacDonald Said. “It is imperative that those critical services continue.”

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement that he was shocked and saddened by the circumstances at the recovery center and agreed that receivership is the best option to make sure there is no interruption in services.

“These developments underscore the need for accountability and transparency in substance use disorder programs,” he said.

Serenity Place did not immediately return emails seeking comment. In an affidavit dated Wednesday, Executive Director Stephanie Bergeron said she and the board of directors believe the organization “needs outside help immediately” to continue providing services and agreed to the appointment of Families in Transition to manage the organization. To facilitate that, all board members and officers of Serenity Place have resigned, she said.

Bergeron said Serenity Place services nearly 3,000 clients annually and employs 69 people. She said its operations have grown rapidly in recent years with the opioid epidemic, with nearly 1,900 people referred to the center from the Safe Station program in Manchester alone.

A court hearing on the case is scheduled for Jan. 23.