Recovery center opens COVID unit

  • Eric Spofford, founder & CEO of The Granite House, pictured on June 1, 2017.

The Eagle-Tribune
Published: 12/11/2020 6:05:30 PM
Modified: 12/11/2020 6:05:18 PM

Tired of turning away addicts because of a COVID-19 diagnosis, CEO of Granite Recovery Centers Eric Spofford announced a specialized unit this week for those confirmed with the virus.

As of Thursday evening, 15 patients with coronavirus were being treated in isolation at Granite Recovery Center’s Green Mountain Treatment Center in Effingham.

The CEO, whose recovery centers have a presence locally in Salem and Derry, calls it “an enormous need.”

Spofford emphasized the important role played by infectious disease experts and patient safety officers from Elliot Hospital, as well as members of his staff who volunteered to pivot full-time to the new COVID unit.

Those staff members do not go into other parts of the facility, Spofford said, and each follows safety protocols consistent with state and federal guidelines for treating a COVID-positive population.

He “couldn’t put a number” on how many people were denied treatment before this recent endeavor, but “the last month or two we watched an increasing trend of people having to walk away.”

“When someone needs help, it is urgent. They don’t have 14 days to go home and quarantine,” he said. “COVID is risky and it’s scary, but for the folks we serve, for most of them, addiction is scarier and riskier.”

Spofford specified that his team is able to provide a full range of substance-use disorder services for folks who are medically stable despite a positive COVID-19 test. The first to occupy the unit are said to be either asymptomatic or have light to moderate symptoms.

Most of the staff caring for the isolated population have already tested positive themselves at some point this year, Spofford said.

“They’re being 100% safe, with masks, gowns, gloves, the whole nine,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. Their bravery, their toughness and their dedication to the mission has been nothing short of amazing.”

Spofford believes the pandemic is perpetuating already mounting overdose deaths, mental health issues and alcholism.

As of mid-November, the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner recorded 297 drug deaths in 2020, with a potential 54 more cases dependent on pending toxicology –– bringing the 11-month total as high as 351.

Drug deaths in New Hampshire for all of 2019 totaled 415, records show. The year before that ended with 471 deaths, and a staggering 490 in 2017.

Regardless of their COVID status, people struggling with addiction are encouraged to call Granite Recovery Centers at 855-598-4118. Phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.




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