Strive Health Featured in Greensburg, PA Newspaper

posted in News

Greensburg substance abuse clinic chosen as flagship for national company

TuesdayOct. 10, 2017, 5:57 p.m.

A New York City-based company chose Greensburg as the flagship for its chain of substance abuse clinics because of the severity of the region’s opioid crisis, the local facility’s director said.

“Unfortunately, they saw the great need here in Greensburg,” said Executive Clinical Director Brian Kephart.

Strive Health of Greensburg, a for-profit clinic, opened this month at 101 N. Main St. It has had one patient so far, and Kephart said he’s been reaching out to other local drug-treatment organizations with a goal of rapid growth.

“We’ve talked to people that share the same clients, because unfortunately there are enough clients to go around,” he said.

Strive Health is operated by Post Acute Recovery, which plans to open clinics nationwide. The first two, in Greensburg and New Hampshire, opened this month. A third is under construction in New Jersey.

Westmoreland County saw a record number of drug overdose deaths in 2016 with 174 fatalities, double the number in 2014, according to the coroner’s office. The number of drug deaths in New Hampshire jumped from 192 in 2013 to 485 in 2016, according to the New Hampshire Drug Monitoring Initiative.

While Strive Health’s goal is to treat substance abuse, its methods aim to go deeper than clients’ struggles with drugs or alcohol.

“We are trauma-informed,” Kephart said. “Our attempts are to treat people through recovery while peeling back the layers to see exactly what has prompted them to look for unhealthy behavior for coping.”

The center has a small full-time staff, all local residents, he said.

Kephart lives in Penn Township and grew up in Sewickley, Allegheny County. He’s worked as a therapist and research specialist for several facilities, including UPMC’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

Post Acute Recovery’s model is based on outpatient therapy, with one-on-one and group sessions. Strive doesn’t currently use medications like methadone and suboxone.

The clinic will treat people struggling with addiction using methods similar to those used to treat trauma survivors, said John Rodolico, chief clinical officer for post acute recovery. Therapists look at the underlying psychological issues that often accompany drug abuse.

Rodolico, a psychologist and officer in the Army Reserve, did two tours in Iraq, where he oversaw mental health treatment for soldiers and Marines.

He’s seen soldiers treated for post-traumatic stress disorder that turned to substance abuse, and soldiers in rehab whose PTSD goes untreated. The only way to solve the problem is to work on both at once, he said.

“When you put those things together you have something very different than if you had been treating them separately,” he said.

The Strive centers plan to put a special focus on treating veterans and first responders and will reach out to organizations in Greensburg to find those in need of treatment.

More broadly, Strive has been in contact with local agencies such as the Westmoreland County Drug Overdose Task Force to find potential patients, Kephart said.

“We’re trying to find creative ways to integrate ourselves into the efforts that are already here,” he said.

The clinic plans to accept referrals and those who seek treatment on their own. An initial consultation is free, and the clinic accepts most private insurance plan. Though it doesn’t yet accept Medicare or Medicaid, officials are working to implement both as well as financial aid for those who can’t pay, Rodolico said.

“We want to treat everybody. My vision is a little grandiose, and a little optimistic, but I want to treat everyone who shows up at the door,” he said.

The clinic is open for walk-in appointments from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, or via Twitter @Soolseem.