With an opioid crisis claiming hundreds of lives a year in Connecticut, a new treatment facility plans to open in Hartford – one of the areas hardest hit by the epidemic.
CleanSlate, which started in neighboring Massachusetts eight years ago, will open their facility on Gillett Street this month, company officials say, and they hope to serve several hundred patients once they are in full operation.
"We are excited to come into Connecticut ... We practice in Springfield and West Springfield and we have treated patients from across the state line for a number of years," Greg Marotta, the company's CEO, said.
He said the decision to expand their services into Connecticut, and specifically Hartford, came after calls from legislators, regulators and health plans, Marotta said.
"This is a such a high-profile epidemic," Marotta said. "When we get those kinds of calls, we work very hard to accommodate and give access to treatment."
Connecticut has seen a sharp increase in the number of drug deaths in recent years, driven largely by opioids including heroin and fentanyl.
In 2016, 917 people fatally overdosed in Connecticut, an increase of 188 over the previous year, state data shows.
Marotta said CleanSlate approaches addiction treatment by addressing it is a chronic disease with medication including buprenorphrine, also known as Suboxone, and Vivitrol.
But he said the medication comes in combination with related therapies and intensive oversight in an outpatient setting. Some patients are seen three-to-four times a month, others as much as twice a week, Marotta said.
"At CleanSlate, we know that opioid addiction is best treated as the chronic disease it is," Dr. Kelly J. Clark, chief medical officer of CleanSlate and president-elect of American Society Of Addiction Medicine, said in a statement.
"We currently treat thousands of patients for opioid and alcohol addiction in a comfortable outpatient environment with a full-time, dedicated team of physicians and advanced-practice clinicians. Our ultimate goal is to help these patients achieve the life they want and deserve – a 'clean slate' from which to thrive," Clark said.
Since starting in 2009, Marotta said the company has helped more than 16,000 patients in centers in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
"We believe we have one of the largest pool of patients that have been managed with medication treatment in the country and we've had very good outcomes," Marotta said. "We continue to learn. Our medical leadership are continually looking for and applying the latest in medicine."
He said based on the need for treatment in Connecticut, CleanSlate hopes to open a second facility in Hartford. Marotta added that they have been working with a number of health plans in Connecticut and are already an in-network provider with some plans including ConnectiCare, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and UnitedHealthcare.
With the opioid crisis's hold continuing in Connecticut, other similar outpatient facilities have begun to open providing outpatient medication-assisted treatment as the need for those services grows.
"We are very excited to come in and be a solution to what has been identified as an epidemic in Connecticut," Marotta said.