For more than 30 years, Aldie Counseling took in Bucks County-funded patients struggling with substance abuse disorder.
Earlier this month, the clinic — with offices in Doylestown and Langhorne — severed its county agreement, alerting the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission Jan. 14 that it would no longer accept residents funded by the county.
“This year we’ve had plenty of setbacks; you couldn’t have chosen a worse time to do something like this,” said current patient Rachael Jones, 33, who credits Aldie and the county funding that paid for her treatment for her seven years of success in recovery.
Over the past few days, patients have being warned that they have two months to decide where to continue their treatment or whether they want to stay at a discounted rate, Jones said.
While Aldie’s contract with the county officially ends March 31, patients are puzzled as to why the agreement ended and what this will mean for those who could be forced to go elsewhere to continue their care.
Calls to Aldie Counseling were not returned as of Friday.
“Anyone who has ever had therapy or treatment knows that you build a relationship and comfort level, so something like this can be detrimental to someone new in recovery,” Jones said. “People who are working so hard in treatment, doing what they are supposed to do, shouldn’t be penalized.”
Diane Rosati, director of the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, said the county will be reaching out to those affected — by phone and through letters — and will refer them to other drug and alcohol treatment providers that have contracts with the county.
“We are offering assistance if they choose to transition to another provider,” said Rosati.
She said the county has worked with Aldie Counseling for over 30 years, though she added that county funding and referrals to Aldie have been reduced in recent years as additional providers have expanded their Bucks County footprint.
Aldie has long been a preferred source for county agencies, local police departments and treatment advocates.
Over the last five years, about 20% of county outpatient funding has been allocated to Aldie, Rosati said.
Plumstead Police Chief Dave Mettin said Aldie’s termination of the county contract will not affect a recent effort launched between local police agencies and the counseling center.
Last month four Central Bucks police departments teamed up with Aldie counseling center to quickly find help for people suffering with addiction.
Central Bucks Regional Police, Buckingham police, Doylestown Township police and Plumstead police departments are now working with Aldie in Doylestown as part of a program called “Supporting Treatment and Recovery Program,” or STAR.
About a decade ago, Aldie also began a collaborative effort among Bucks County Corrections, Bucks County Probation and Parole, the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission to provide a re-entry plan for criminal offenders who have substance abuse histories.
Rosati said county agencies will refer clients to several other area treatment centers that accept county funding.
She said one provider, SOAR in Warminster, is stepping in to help, inviting clients to tour one of its Bucks County sites and meet key staff, “to ensure a smooth transition.” She said Bucks County has contracts with several other treatment providers for outpatient services, including Family Service Association, Penn Foundation and Livengrin.
Rosati said the county has a network of other providers who offer various forms of treatment for residents with substance use disorders, including Gaudenzia, Livengrin, Pyramid Healthcare, Good Friends, Libertae, Penndel Mental Health Center, and the Council of Southeast PA, Inc.
Costs of treatment
Aldie uses methadone treatment and other pharmaco-therapeutics to help those fighting addiction. Methadone is one of three drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in medication-assisted treatment. It is only dispensed in a clinic but that means patients have to make the trip on a fairly regular basis — daily, in the beginning.
Rosati said that each of the county’s client’s cost of treatment varies, depending on their services and participation. She said some clients receive only an assessment, or a few individual and group sessions per month; others receive services weekly or more often, along with medications. The average monthly cost per client is roughly $367.
During the last fiscal year, the county helped fund 269 residents for assessments and other treatment services at both Aldie locations. Rosati said Aldie’s allocation had been roughly $850,000 for the 2020-21 fiscal year, “and it is anticipated that they would expend roughly 50% of the allocation due to the factors previously noted.”
For Jones, county funding is critical in maintaining her treatment plans.
Typically, she said, the price for methadone maintenance program is $130 a week, which she said includes one therapy visit and medicine. The county provides $100 of that weekly cost for her.
“County funding is based on what you make,” she said.
Aldie told county officials that they have offered each county-funded client to remain at Aldie, at a reduced fee, and they have a small amount of scholarship funding available to them to allocate as needed. Jones said, “they are noting that most residents are medical assistance eligible, and they are now a Medicare provider as well, which expands access for residents.”
But this doesn’t help Jones, who doesn’t qualify for medical assistance because she has a job. Because of her income level, however, she has been able to qualify for county funding for several years.
“Any person working is most likely ineligible for medical assistance, which is why county funding has been so vital to helping these people actively trying to better themselves,” Jones said.
Jones said her hope is that Aldie Counseling will renew its contract and continue serving county-based clients.
“I have witnessed numerous people step through those doors on the brink of death and leave looking like a totally different person; healthy, vibrant, and productive,” she said. “I’m a success story and I owe a lot of this to Aldie. I just think that others deserve this chance too.”
Staff writer Christopher Dornblaser contributed to this report.