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Cleveland drug treatment facility expands to meet growing demand

Posted: 3:58 PM, Sep 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-05 17:50:36-04
Stella Maris

CLEVELAND — Men and women in crisis in our community may be finding themselves on the losing end of supply and demand.

Right now, there are so many people trying to escape from the grip of opioids that at least one treatment facility in Cleveland can't keep up.

"People have come out of the woodwork for help," said Daniel Lettenberger-Klein, Executive Director of Stella Maris.

We've been tracking the fallout from the opioid crisis here in Northeast Ohio for years, and for the first time, instead of talking about the impact, we can show you, as the epidemic forces one drug treatment facility to expand its footprint.

The expansion will allow Stella Maris to help people break free from addiction much quicker.

"We have a wait list at any given time of about 120 to 150 people just for detox alone," said Lettenberger-Klein.

The non-profit agency with a 70-year tradition of taking care of the community is finding itself with its hands tied as the number of people hooked on opioids continues to grow.

"Ninety percent of our clients coming into our detox either have some sort of opiate they're addicted to, along with other substances, or just by itself," said Carole Negus, Director of Nursing with Stella Maris.

Those clients who can get in find themselves in a cramped detox unit.

"These clients are already climbing out of their skin, and then we put them in a room where they are literally sitting on top of each other and that just really re-enforces that anxiety," said Negus.

Negus said that experience alone can be detrimental.

"We lose them and they're back out there for who knows how long," said Negus.

Negus fears those they can't serve due to a lack of space will wind up losing their battle.

"I'm just trying to prevent those statistics," said Negus.

A combination of grant funding and donations from the community is helping fund the new $6 million expansion.

Stella Maris expansion
Crews beginning work on the $6 million expansion to Stella Maris.

It will triple the space and allow the staff to take on an additional 3,300 new clients a year.

Most of them are between the ages of 35 and 45.

"These are the people that should be thriving in their careers and stuff like that and they are caught up in opioid addiction," said Negus.

Stella Maris is not just adding space to keep up with demand.

"It probably means adding a whole load of registered nurses, clinicians to the team and building out, scaling what we are currently doing," said Lettenberger-Klein.

Stella Maris expects to have the new detoxification unit online by next summer.