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BENTONVILLE -- One of the state's largest adult residential treatment centers for substance abuse is taking new clients again after months of uncertainty about its future, managers said Friday.

The 47 employees at the 64-bed Decision Point and its affiliates for months have worried it would close. Staff stayed largely because the clients had nowhere else to go, said Brandy Mitchel of Rogers, regional director of administration for Decision Point's new owner. "We had no guarantees, but we keep believing the only program of its kind here would not be shut down because it was needed," she said.

"All our clients landed safely, and that was our focus," Mitchel said.

Preferred Family Healthcare of Springfield, Mo., lost its Medicaid certification and all 16 of its state contracts June 29 in a fraud and bribery scandal. Preferred Family bought Decision Point in 2011. Preferred Family announced its intention to leave its operations in the state and sell its remaining assets, including Decision Point, after losing the certification and contracts.

Weeks, then months, passed as Preferred Family sought buyers. Mitchel praised Preferred Family for keeping staff informed of every development, but there were no guarantees a buyer could be found.

Quapaw House, a nonprofit corporation based in Hot Springs, announced Oct. 5 it would take over Decision Point and other assets in the region. The deal was not announced until Oct. 15. The staff had no assurance the program would survive until that day, Mitchel said. That included her. Mitchel was also regional director for Preferred Family for 11 years.

The terms of the sale weren't released.

The new ownership arrangement is working well, said Charis Miller, regional director of marketing and business for Quapaw. The Hot Springs company specializes in treating substance abuse such as drug and alcohol addiction. Quapaw wanted to expand into behavioral health, which includes fields such as counseling and treatment of mental health conditions, Miller said. Preferred Family had an extensive network of such services along with substance abuse facilities.

The two fields are interrelated, Mitchel said. Mental health issues and substance abuse often go together.

"That is the case more times than not," she said. "Treating the whole person is where we're moving in the future."

The state Department of Human Services' Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance confirmed Friday it has been working with Quapaw House, and it has received certification as a behavioral health provider to offer a range of services including mental health and substance abuse counseling at a number of sites across the state.

Preferred Family's network of behavioral health services is still there, but some of the providers affiliated with it left during the controversy, according to Mitchel. After Preferred Family announced it was leaving the state, many of the providers took their practices to other companies.

"They had an ethical obligation to those clients to make sure there was no interruption in care," she said. "None of our clients had their care interrupted, but I think the biggest effect was on people who were not getting care already," Mitchel said.

Preferred Family took no new clients and other behavioral health providers in the state were absorbing clients transferring in from Preferred Family, she said. The situation left little room for newcomers. Preferred Family had 1,500 clients in the Bentonville-Rogers area before leaving, she said.

"It was a roller coaster ride, but we are thriving now," Mitchel said. "We've taken 26 new clients in during the last three weeks," referring to the residential program.

NW News on 12/16/2018

Print Headline: Decision Point survives, thrives, regional director says

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