Funding cuts threaten Manna’s drug treatment programs

Posted Dec. 06, 2010, at 10:28 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — With Manna Ministries’ annual Thanksgiving appeal recently completed and the Christmas fundraising just getting under way, now is a difficult time to have to seek additional support from the community.

That’s the unenviable position that Executive Director Bill Rae finds himself in after cutbacks in state funding for Manna’s drug treatment programs, namely Derek House and Elijah’s House.

As part of recent efforts to rein in the state budget, Manna’s reimbursement level for adults receiving treatment through Derek House and Elijah’s House plunged from $260 per bed night to $113.

With no other funding source, Rae expects he will be applying for grants, seeking help from the community or likely both. Grant funding, however, won’t be available until the new year, he noted.

Rae said that the two programs are on track to lose an estimated $400,000. He said that because of the cutbacks, he has been forced to reduce his staff from 30 employees to 25 in the past few months.

Any further reductions in staffing would put the programs — and the people they serve — in jeopardy, Rae said in a recent interview.

“We’re not sure how we’re going to keep going,” he said, adding that shutting down the programs “is not an option.”

Derek House is Manna’s long-term rehabilitation program for adults who have completed a detoxification program or who need more support to achieve recovery from addiction. Upon completing the program, clients are offered transitional housing and-or support in integrating back into the community, according to Manna’s website.

Derek House also offers on-site mental health counseling for addicts who are grappling with mental health problems.

Elijah’s House is a 10-bed extended care treatment shelter for men who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs.

Rae said Manna’s programs are different from many others in Maine because they are faith-based.

Rae said the populations the programs serve are invisible to most.

Many of them have been struggling with addictions for years and turned to Manna after other treatment options failed them, Rae said. The programs now serve men and women ranging in age from 19 to 65.

“How can I say to them you have to leave here now?” he said. For some clients, the closure could mean returning to a life of addiction, or even worse, a life on the streets or behind bars, he said.

Guy Cousins, director of the state Office of Substance Abuse, said he has been working with Rae for the past several months in an attempt to find a solution to Manna’s funding crisis, including finding ways to help Manna diversify its revenue stream.

Cousins said Monday that the drop in Manna’s reimbursement level is the result of two things.

One is state lawmakers’ decision to reduce the MaineCare budget as part of the overall belt-tightening effort, Cousins said.

The other is a decision to standardize the reimbursement levels for residential treatment facilities, he said. As a result, some facilities saw increases and others saw decreases.

Rae urges anyone who can help Manna keep its treatment programs, either financially or in terms of “thinking outside the box,” to call him at 990-2870.

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