Amatus Recovery Centers Signs Friendship House Lease With AHEAD

The Friendship House addiction treatment and recovery center in Bethlehem is now under new management after Affordable Housing, Education and Development signed a lease with Amatus Recovery Centers, which will manage it and expand services. (Courtesy photo)

Amatus Recovery Centers has signed a lease with Affordable Housing, Education and Development Inc. (AHEAD) to run the AHEAD-owned Friendship House addiction treatment and recovery center in Bethlehem.

The Friendship House name will be retired and the program and facility will be re-branded as New Hampshire Detox, managed by Amatus Recovery Centers, said Chris Foster, regional executive director for Amatus.

In addition to an increase to 50 residential treatment beds, a significant change will be a move to 24/7 service and admission because no one should have wait when they need help and when lives are on the line, Foster said Wednesday.

“Our motto is when you’re ready, we’re ready,” he said. “We will pick you up wherever that might be.”

Amatus’ requested license is being reviewed by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the hope is that operations can commence in early to mid-April, on the day the license is granted, said Foster.

“The state is diligently working on that and they understand the need and severity and are very responsive,” he said. “Once we get licensure, we can simultaneously credential with Medicaid. Once we get the license, we can get the Medicaid ID number and start rendering services. We have contact with both agencies and are working with them closely.”

The Maryland-based Amatus Recovery Centers, established in 2015, runs 15 centers in six states.

In addition to Bethlehem, they include two centers in New Hampshire, the Blueprint recovery center in Concord and Bonfire center in Dover.

At New Hampshire Detox in Bethlehem, Amatus is planning an expansion in the number of residential treatment services, and through program build-out, will launch intensive outpatient treatment.

“AHEAD is very excited to enter into this partnership with Amatus,” said Mike Claflin, executive director for AHEAD. “They bring a capacity and a passion to the Friendship House that will allow long-term resources to the people in recovery here in New Hampshire.”

New capacity programs include 24-hour telephones and delivery service that will make a big difference in the North Country, he said.

“We are beginning to discuss what is needed to bring up their capacity to 50 beds,” said Claflin. “All in all, this is a very good development for the Friendship House, and those who it will serve.”

The new operation is aimed at expanding treatment and recovery services in the North Country, a region that for many years has had a lack of services compared with more densely populated areas downstate.

Between now and the opening, Foster said Amatus will need to build up staffing because the Friendship House never had a medical component before and New Hampshire Detox will have one and is adding a limited withdrawal management program that will need nurses 24 hours a day.

New Hampshire Detox, at 2957 Main St./Route 302, was previously managed when it was the Friendship House by the North Country Health Consortium from late 2017 to December 2020, after the new $5.5 million building was completed to replace the original Friendship House built in the 1960s.

Sitting on 16 acres, New Hampshire Detox is currently a 32-bed facility that provides substance use disorder treatment and recovery services to low-income residents.

Now at the helm, Amatus will provide medically monitored intensive in-patient services, clinically managed high-intensity residential services, partial hospitalization services, intensive out-patient services, case management, alumni and continuing care and family programming.

The plan going forward is to build out the facility to accommodate 14 to 16 new beds.

There are currently 28 residential beds and four special detox beds, the latter of which can be made into a residential treatment area with two more residential beds to house two more clients, bringing it to 36 beds.

New Hampshire Detox will open with the 36 beds and reach the 50-bed mark through construction.

Employees are expected to total 42.5 full-time equivalent.

The new facility is the first of its kind north of the Notch and the only addiction treatment center in a 65-mile radius.

It will have an executive director and clinical director as well as outreach representatives and alumni.

Amatus’ lease with AHEAD for New Hampshire Detox is flexible and allows the organization to manage the program for many years, said Foster.

New Hampshire Detox will be a 30-day program, after which clients can step down to another program and community programs, including housing, at Bonfire or Blueprint, he said.

“We are very excited as an organization and are looking forward to growing our footprint,” said Foster.

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