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St.E. Healthcare, Life Learning Center dedicate new Journey Recovery Center in Covington

By Patricia A. Scheyer
NKyTribune reporter

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear helped christen the launching of the Journey Recovery Center, a joint project of St. Elizabeth Healthcare and the Life Learning Center in Covington to help those struggling with addiction.

The center will offer whole-person treatment and recovery and expands St. Elizabeth’s service throughout the region.

Gov. Beshear (Photo by Patricia Scheyer/NKyTribune)

“Before I talk about the Journey Recovery Center, let me first say to everybody in healthcare here today at St Elizabeth or any other facility, thank you,” said Beshear.

“We’ve been through, basically walking through the gates of hell and back again, especially the last three years. The way that you all stepped up and met your calling during one of the scariest times of all our lifetimes. I want you to know how proud I am of the successful work of all of those working then, and now in both treatment in the private sector and in the jails. It’s hard to celebrate, but when you see that light, when you see the trend start to turn around, with everyone in peer support, we can show other people there’s a way to get through this. They are the hope — the proof that treatment works, helping one individual, one soul at a time.”

Beshear was one of nine speakers at the ribbon-cutting grand opening this week, touting the first of its kind treatment center and life center in one building.

Alecia Webb-Eddington (Photo by Patricia Scheyer/NKyTribune)

“Today we are embarking on a journey that will revolutionize how we support the at-risk population,” said Life Learning President Alecia Webb-Edgington. “Today we rejoice, because there is nothing like this in the country.”

Dr Heidi Murley, President and CEO of St Elizabeth Physicians, provided a little history.

“In 1861 Henrietta Cleveland was grieving for her lost husband and both of her children,” she related. “She was devastated and in mourning. But instead of closing her eyes to the world, she noticed many poor and sick on the streets of Covington. She felt called to help those who were struggling, channeling her sorrow into motivation to serve her community. One hundred sixty two years later her spirit of service still lives in many of us. That’s why we’re here today. In 2015 Journey Recovery Center was founded, and in 2017 it expanded. And now, we have opened another Journey Recovery Center just this year in Aurora, Indiana, and today we opened this new facility in partnership with the Life Learning center. This new site will double the size of what we had available at Journey Recovery Center.”

The ribbon-cutting (Photo by Patricia Scheyer/NKyTribune)

The new center has actually been open since November 6. Patients come from many sources, from the hospital, or through doctors, and they can even walk into the center. The first encounter is an intake, accomplished either by phone or in person. Then the person is assigned to a case manager, after which they meet a therapist, and finally a physician, who will assess their needs and be able to start them on treatment. The patient is carefully tended to throughout their assessment and beyond, and specialists are able to assign them to the specific treatment they need.

The Journey Recovery Center has many specialists highly trained in addiction medicine, behavioral health and case management. They offer recovery support through a case by case management, and specialized support groups.

Dr. Teresa Koeller, Physician and Medical Director of the Journey Recovery Center, said that they have support groups that meet for three hours, three days a week in the morning and the afternoons. There are also groups that meet for an hour at a time throughout the week.

Dr. Teresa Koeller (Photo by Patricia Scheyer/NKyTribune)

In addition, she pointed out the Baby Steps program, for women who are pregnant, which gives them help pertinent to their condition, before, during and after their babies are born.

Koeller said that they are constantly looking for grants to help with expenses and funding, but they do take the same insurance that St Elizabeth takes, although some Medicaid is not as good as others. Still, St Elizabeth looks at the Center as a mission.

“We first opened in 2015, in collaboration with Life Learning Center,” said Dr. Koeller. “We have already noticed an 181 percent increase in employment, and an 8 percent reduction in recidivism.”

Boone County Judge Executive Gary Moore was at the ribbon cutting, representing the area judge executives.

“What I want to talk about is what we’ve been talking about, and that is partnerships, collaborations, regionalism and working together to produce amazing results,” he stated. He pointed out that successes in one area of Northern Kentucky leads to success in other areas if everyone works together to make it happen.

Journey Recovery Center at Life Learning Center, Covington

Beshear agreed.

“I want every single Kentuckian in treatment to know that we’re proud of them, whether it is their first time, their second time, or their 14th or 15th time,” he said. “Anybody who is trying deserves our respect, and deserves our help.”

Beshear brought up that the center should benefit in the future from the proceeds that come out of drug settlements, and he thinks the center is one of the best uses for that money, because the funds will go to work to address all the barriers to people getting treatment, such as cost.

“For the first time, cost isn’t a barrier of what we can do,” he said. “Anyone who is ready for treatment can get it right now, whether they can pay for it or not.”

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