We always like to see recovery stories about brought to a regional level. And in our world (which consists of treatment centers in Santa Clarita and Agua Dulce), that means reactions and responses within Southern California. Well The Los Angeles Times is, of course, the authority on that region, which is why we were excited when they published a local expose on recovery during COVID-19.
The piece, which was published last week, described how many treatment centers around L.A. are adapting to the “new normal” of the coronavirus pandemic. As we’ve mentioned many times before, several locations have struggled financially and shut down over the past couple of months. But others do survive and it is certainly interesting to hear how they’re adapting.
One call out is that centers in the lower income communities of Los Angeles are feeling the biggest sting. For them, capacity is less than half full and furloughs have become commonplace. More posh treatment centers in wealthier parts of town have fared better, but they too have undergone drastic changes.
Double occupancy bedrooms (which are common in our world) have often been reduced to housing just one guest. Glass partitions are also now getting added in common areas, to maintain social distancing and adhere to safety rules. And, of course, any patient entering now is subject to stringent COVID-19 testing.
Other factors are unique to our industry. In another story we previously mentioned, hand sanitizers are getting removed. Believe it or not, there are risks associated with their contents; that could be particularly tempting to recovering alcoholics.
Local university professor, Dr. Amesh Adalja, spoke to The Times about the current situation. While applauding L.A. treatment centers for continuing to stay open and provide help, he did say that the future may be shaky for people worried about contracting the virus.
“I do hope these newer safety measures make people feel more comfortable about seeking addiction help,” Dr. Adalja explained. “There’s not going to be anything that’s zero risk, in the absence of a vaccine. But this is in a different category than going to a birthday party. You don’t want to postpone needed medical care.”
Interestingly, though, Marvin Ventrell, CEO of The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, had hopes that the hurdles facing everyone right now could be a silver lining when it comes to receiving treatment.
“A person who was struggling with a substance use disorder, and who was laid off and a nonessential worker, might have seen this as an opportunity to go to treatment without having to explain to their employer why they’re taking two, three, four weeks off,” he concluded.
Time will most certainly tell how our peers in the southland truly fare in era of COVID-19. Let’s hope that it all goes in a positive direction.