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Rowan Learns about the Harmony Foundation from Gina Thorne

November 28, 2018

Gina Thorne talks about the collaboration between the Harmony Foundation and Sandstone Care.

Rowan Hill:       Hi everyone, and welcome to the Inspire and Empower Change podcast here. I’ve got Gina [Thorn 00:00:06] from the Harmony Foundation, and I’m [Rowan 00:00:10] Hill here with Sandstone Care. Welcome, Gina.

Gina Thorn:      Thanks, Rowan. It’s good to be here, and I’m really excited to talk with you a little bit about our partnership and what we do between Sandstone and Harmony. So this is gonna be great.

I’m Gina Thorn. I’m the chief marketing officer at Harmony Foundation and really excited to share with all of you who Harmony is and how we partner with people in the community.

Rowan Hill:       Awesome, and I think we’ve got hopefully not unique, but I’d say pretty high level of collaboration between our two programs. I know that we’ve had meetings with more than just the business development team. Which for me that says a lot that we’ve come up to Harmony with a whole crew of people and you had a whole crew of people ready for us from clinical and case management and outreach all together and vice versa. And all of that.

Gina Thorn:      Yeah, it’s been great. I think what I’ve really enjoyed about the process when I think about our relationship with Sandstone is the philosophy around leadership and the culture that’s been created in your organization and how much it feels familiar to what we do at Harmony.

So when we started building a relationship with Sandstone a few years ago, we were able to really see that there was a great sort of connection between what you all are doing in working with young adults and how we can be a resource for them on the front end. Then bringing them back into your program as they continue their work in recovery, which has been great.

But you mentioned the partnership piece. I mean, one thing that we did very early on, I think it was even before you arrived, is we created this business development model where we actually brought both business development teams together. We sat down and kind of brainstormed how could do work together in a more meaningful way, which is such a beautiful part of collaboration.

Rowan Hill:       Yeah.

Gina Thorn:      And I think that’s why we’ve really enjoyed the synergy with Sandstone so much is the leadership from the top down really believes in that. There’s not this concept of cloud competition and recognizing that it takes a village to help someone get better.

Rowan Hill:       Yeah, it really does. Yeah and I think it’s so important for us all to be tapped into that because it’s very easy to have this protective sense of … You’ve put a lot into creating your clinical programming and not wanting to trust other people are gonna be able to hold to your standards. That kind of ends up often being kind of counter productive to what’s in the best interest of the community that’s trying to become more supportive of recovery as a whole.

Gina Thorn:      Right, right, and if you think about the principle of recovery, it’s about community.

Rowan Hill:       Yeah.

Gina Thorn:      And so how do we create a community in the world of addiction treatment where we’re helping people be successful? Harmony’s focus has really been about extending ourselves out into the community. We know what we do really well. We’ve been working in the community now almost 50 years, 50 years is gonna be our big anniversary next year. And I love telling folks that we’ve had 20000 people that have come through our program, which is really quite a milestone.

Rowan Hill:       Yeah, it’s huge.

Gina Thorn:      And when we have that it’s not because we did it in isolation. Our relationships with Sandstone has really helped us continue bridging that partnership so that we can be successful at what we do. We are, I mentioned earlier, we’re a part of the solution. We’re a part of the recovery plan. We’re not the whole plan.

So when we talk about relationships with people in the community, we know what we do really well and we wanna lean on Sandstone to be the resource for next steps for young adults. Because we know that you all specialize in doing that. Where we might do some things very differently than you all do, our detox program is really robust and very focused on individualized care.

So if we can build and continue to build that partnership, we think that makes all the difference.

Rowan Hill:       Right. So for a client or family who we’re recommending to check out the Harmony Foundation, what should they know about how you approach care and what levels of care you’re specialized in?

Gina Thorn:      So it’s important to note that we are a residential level of care, which is in many cases the highest level of care that somebody’s gonna come when they come to treatment. So many times they have to be in a place where they’re really sick on the addiction continuum to come to us. If they’re recreationally using and they might have gone to an out patient program, they may not be eligible for our program because they’re not in need of that structured living environment because their addiction is so out of control.

So when we look at Harmony as a residential program, which is really what our flagship is, it’s designed for a place of an incubation, if you will. It’s an incubator for recovery. So people are eating, breathing, and sleeping recovery all day long. They’re connected with our staff who’s very focused on being mindful around their behaviors. This disease is about behavior change and so if someone is really sick and they need structured living or if their family environment is really unhealthy, then we want them to come into our residential level of care where they can have 24/7 accountability and eyes on them while they’re with us.

From there, we recognize that if somebody’s calling into our program and they are eligible for it and they do meet criteria, which is all driven by ASAM, the American Society of Addiction Medicine criteria. At that point our admissions team will work with the individual and their families to really assess, can they financially afford our program? So even though we’re a not for profit organization, there still are costs involved in people coming to treatment with us.

But that’s okay because we will work with clients as best we can, and if they can’t financially afford us or if they’re not clinically appropriate, then we will call other partners in the community to see if they can be a resource. When an individual calls us and they do meet criteria that doesn’t mean that they’re coming to treatment with us for 30 days. We’re not a 30 day or nothing model. We’re not telling somebody that they have to stop their mail or find childcare for their kids for 30 days or more because we really try to evaluate the individual, where they are on the addiction continuum.

So somebody may come to us and only need detox, and we have a residential evaluation in detox program where it’s detox and stabilization only. So maybe they come in for three to five days or so and they do their detox. Then they move to the next level of care which is usually a step down to another program back in their community. We also have a recommitment to recovery, which is also a relapse prevention program. That program is really for people who within the last year may have come to treatment, slipped, need a little bit more time, and need to be in a program like ours for maybe one or two weeks. That’s the RCR program.

The real flagship program that we have is our residential program, and that program is evaluated on a day by day basis as a client is progressing through treatment. As they’re getting better and healthier, then we will start looking at discharging them sooner than 30 days to move them to the next level of care. We know that treatment is a financial hardship for a lot of people. People don’t have money in their bank accounts saying for a rainy day saying, “I’m gonna put this aside for treatment.”

So we wanna be mindful of that. We also wanna be mindful of people’s success. We don’t feel like everybody needs to be in treatment for 30 days. There are some that could certainly use more time, but our goal is to be responsive to what they need while they’re with us. So we call that a variable length of stay. So when they come to us it could be as short as a few days or as long as 30 depending on where they fall on the addiction continuum.

Rowan Hill:       Awesome, and in terms of … I know for a lot of families, they’re looking at the mental health side as well as the substance use. I’m wondering how much do you work with co-occurring mental health and how much are you strictly a substance program?

Gina Thorn:      That’s a great question because historically Harmony’s name has really been affiliated with just being 12 step abstinence based treatment, and that’s really what we were founded on 50 years ago. We still believe very strongly in the abstinence based model. We’re still very 12 step oriented because we believe that peer support and that fellowship is important for recovery after they leave treatment.

We don’t embed 12 step as a treatment modality. I think that’s really important for folks to know is that we want people to be introduced to the fellowship of 12 step because we know that it’s in community and through accountability that people can stay sober. So if we were to give somebody a list of names for 12 step meeting minutes before they discharge, they probably wouldn’t take advantage of it because it would seem foreign to them. But if we start introducing the concepts of 12 steps while they’re in treatment, while they’re side by side going through their actual clinical program, they’re learning that peer support and peer engagement is a necessary part of recovery.

With that, we started introducing mental health probably about four or five years ago. We recognized that you can’t take the addiction out in separation from the mental health. We all know, in fact I always kind of kiddingly say that it’s almost impossible to find somebody who’s just an alcoholic or an addict. In most cases people are struggling with some form of mental health issue, and it usually emerges after you go through the detox process.

We’ve embedded through the efforts of our clinical director, chief clinical officer Dr. Peters, a really robust mental health program. So we have a mental health team, we have staff that are trained in mental health, our efforts are really to be responsive to mental health issues. We do not see ourselves as a dual diagnosis heavy program, so if folks are looking for that, that’s not who we are.

Rowan Hill:       Okay.

Gina Thorn:      But we can refer folks to places that have more mental health needs that are much more significant. If they are, what we call sort of suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and we’re able to help manage it while they’re in our program, we can totally do that.

But, again, admissions to Harmony is substance abuse primary. But we have capacity and infrastructure now to address mental health issues.

Rowan Hill:       Okay. Thanks so much, Gina.

Gina Thorn:      You’re welcome.

Rowan Hill:       I really appreciate your time. I know that I really appreciate working with Harmony and just being up there in that space is already just a rejuvenating experience.

Gina Thorn:      It is. It’s a spiritual experience. It’s a place between two worlds where people can really just connect and really focus on themselves. And we appreciate Sandstone and all the work that you all do and we look forward to continued partnership with you.

Rowan Hill:       Okay, so you can check out the Harmony Foundation at harmonyfoundationinc.com and thanks for watching.



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