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Addiction is a complex disease that takes its toll physically, mentally, spiritually and socially. Many of these components need to be rehabilitated in order to result in long-term recovery. That can be a lot for one person to change and often outside support and help is needed. What kind of support is needed? How many treatment centers offer this type of treatment? Who oversees the treatment centers and evaluates their safety and credibility? Who can a family turn to for credible answers, sometimes needed in the middle of the night? Today with opioid addiction skyrocketing, treatment centers have to keep abreast of changing trends in drug use and best treatment practices.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in the United States, there are more than 14,500 drug treatment facilities where this holistic care can be found. Counseling, behavioral therapy, medication, case management, and other types of services are provided by these centers to people with substance use disorders. Another helpful organization is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), which is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for addressing substance abuse and mental illness. Available 24 hours each day, 365 days a year, the agency has a free, confidential helpline for treatment referrals and information on mental illness and/or substance use disorders. Also readily available is their treatment locator, which lists a variety of treatment options by location.

NIDA Guide Graph
From The National Institute on Drug Abuse “Principals of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.

Asking for help is hard enough. Turning oneself over to the constant care of another during what might be the most painful process of one’s life is even harder. Internal desire and external pressure to stay on the solid ground that only abstinence can provide is powerful motivation. Trusting the care and guidance of the treatment center you chose is paramount to harnessing that motivation, but that isn’t always easy.

Are the counselors a fit for a particular type of addiction? Does the facility keep up with the latest research and best practice recommendations? Will my loved one be safe physically as well as mentally and emotionally?

Maeve O’Neill knew at the age of 11 she wanted to help people with addiction. Her parents struggled with addiction and mental health issues. Now she finds herself in her ideal job. For the past 25 years, she’s been helping people as she has served in various roles of behavioral care from clinician to executive management. “I’ve done every job except maintenance and cooking. I’ve been a direct service provider, addiction counselor, clinician, and CEO responsible for oversight of best practices and regulatory updates. I am now able every day to pull on all of that accumulated knowledge to help the company be the best.”

In her role as Vice President of Compliance, she drills down into the critical details that comprise Addiction Campuses‘ mission to help their clients loosen and release their struggle with addiction. “Working with the company to help it be the best is what I get to do every day and I love it.”

Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee with 4 in-patient addiction treatment programs, O’Neill describes Addiction Campuses as a caring organization. “It’s really a family atmosphere and not just the slogan.” O’Neill believes any organization can and will become unhealthy without daily efforts to work toward health in staff relationships, communication, and teamwork.

The need for ethical policies and practices in the inpatient drug treatment industry is great. Many other types of companies have applied such thoughtful policies to their day to day working and reaped the benefits. Healthier clients, well-adjusted and happy workers, all allow a company to thrive. Consistency in following best practices and holding people accountable to high standards is critical.

Who sets the best practices and how can one ensure a treatment center is following them? Many addiction treatment centers are accredited by The Joint Commission, which provides its seal of approval for healthcare organizations that meet the particular set of standards set for the behavioral health care services and settings it provides. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

Joint Commission Golden SealLook for the Gold Seal of Approval®

The Treehouse Drug and Alcohol Rehab, and Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Rehab, Addiction Campuses centers, have earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards.

The Seal awarded by The Joint Commission is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective care and is one of the highest levels of achievement a treatment center can receive.

With a mission to continuously improve health care for the public by evaluating health care organizations and, in collaboration with other stakeholders, The Joint Commission evaluates health care organizations and inspires them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.

The Joint Commission accreditation standards provide a framework for a higher standard of care for organizations who are providing Substance Use Disorder Treatment. Julia Finken, RN, BSN, MBA, CSSBB, CPHQ, is the executive director of Community Behavioral Health Care and Psychiatric Hospital Accreditation for The Joint Commission. Finken said, “Our standards cover important aspects of care including, but are not limited to:

  • Admission processes;
  • Comprehensive assessments;
  • Development and implementation of a comprehensive patient-centered plan of care, treatment, and services;
  • Provision of care in a safe environment including an environment which reduces the risk of self-harm or harm to others;
  • Human Resource requirements including the qualifications, experience, education, licensure or certification for each position within the organization; competency validation during the initial orientation period and at defined intervals throughout the duration of the employee’s tenure with the organization;
  • Robust performance improvement which requires organizations to identify opportunities to improve the quality and safety of the care they provide to the individuals they serve and make the necessary improvements; and
  • Measurement-based care through the use of a standardized instrument to inform the care of the individuals served and the populations served.”

“Organizations undergo an initial on-site survey when they first apply for accreditation. Following initial accreditation, they undergo an unannounced on-site survey every 18-36 months. Organizations may undergo an onsite survey more often as the result of random sampling or in response to a complaint related to patient safety and quality concerns,” Finken continued.

Finken explained how people can check to see if an organization is accredited by The Joint Commission. “Individuals seeking information on a Joint Commission accredited organization can find that organization listed at The Quality Report lists an organization’s accreditation status, accreditation history, accredited locations and services, accreditation dates, and compliance with National Patient Safety Goals.”

As a performance improvement organization, Finken said, “Our goal is to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.” The Joint Commission sends experienced licensed professionals to survey organizations. Finken said, “On average our Community Behavioral Health Care Surveyors have 11 years of survey experience and perform an average of 15 surveys per year.“ She continued, “The onsite survey includes not only an evaluation of the organization’s compliance with standards but extensive education on how to improve compliance with the standards including sharing of leading practices demonstrated across the country.

As Compliance Officer and former surveyor for The Joint Commission, Maeve O’Neill works on keeping the standards high and up to The Joint Commission standards for all Addiction Campuses facilities. Having someone who is a former surveyor for The Joint Commission helps her to knowledgeably apply quality of care and safety criterions at Addiction Campuses. One way she keeps all of the teams adhering to the standards is through a policy manual she’s designed after The Joint Commission’s standards. “We revised the policy manual to directly guide the care and treatment of our patients. We use it each and every day. This provides consistency with each shift and prevents people from making up policy on the fly. This helps us be proactive and have a preventative approach. I’ve worked in other places where no one knew what the manual was.”

“The compliance officer role is an enforcer position in the office. When I handle that role with compassion, without shame, without judgment it sets the foundation for honesty and truth to flourish, which is critical in every business especially addiction treatment.”

She has created an open culture where she is available to take calls and texts from the staff, answer questions, and provide guidance right away. She holds regular meetings with each department so they can share insights and problem solve, always looking for ways to improve their processes and care. “No question is too small to ask me and they know I’ll be there for them.”

This approach has transformed the way Addiction Campuses works together, making it a healthier happier and more successful organization.

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