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Sound Health is a recurring series that airs twice each month on WGLT's Sound Ideas program.Support for Sound Health comes from Carle Health, bringing care, coverage, support, healthcare research and education to central Illinois and beyond.

Chestnut explores other options after dropping 24-hour detox nursing care

Chestnut Health Systems 2019 exterior.jpg
WGLT file photo
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Chestnut Health Systems says demand for medically-monitored detox has dropped sharply in the last four years, so the Bloomington-based health center has dropped the service.

Ten years after Chestnut Health Systems in Bloomington expanded its substance abuse treatment to offer medically-monitored detox, that service is going away.

Chestnut continues residential and outpatient treatments, but it's referring people who need medical monitoring elsewhere.

Matt Mollenhauer is Chestnut's chief clinical officer. In this edition of Sound Health, Mollenhauer explained Chestnut offered medically-monitored detox to handle a growing number of patients with complex health problems because of the emergence of opiates and synthetic drugs.

Mollenhauer said Chestnut dropped the treatment because the number of patients had dropped 75% — from nearly 400 in 2018 to fewer than 90 last year — while its fixed costs that require a full staff of nurses to provide 24-hour care regardless of the census count made medical monitoring unsustainable.

“That’s really been the big driver of this,” he said. “A medically-monitored detox program that has 24 hours at its core is not business viable at the volume of clients we’ve been getting the last three, four years,” he said, adding Chestnut's residential and outpatient treatment services continue to show strong demand.

Mollenhuaer said Chestnut is exploring a new ambulatory detox option where patients would be medically monitored on an outpatient basis.

Chestnut is referring substance abuse patients who need medical care to other agencies:

Removing the stigma

Mollenhauer said it will take more public education to remove the stigma that keeps many people from seeking medical treatment for substance abuse or other addiction.

“For years in the substance abuse field, we have talked about stigma as being part of the problem and I think that’s still the case,” he said, adding that racial disparities are embedded in various health treatments, including COVID vaccines.

A recent study shows Black and indigenous people have experienced the fastest rates of rising overdose deaths, while a vast majority of them never sought treatment.

Mollenhauer said a larger number of minorities in the medical field also might reduce hesitancy for some to seek medical treatment by making them feel safer.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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