22-bed center opens for substance-use detox

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PORTLAND — Pine Tree Recovery Center, a 22-bed detox unit, is set to open Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 17 Bishop St.

For program director John Buro, it is a homecoming and another way to help people recovering from substance use disorders.

“I really feel like Portland is my home, and bringing something like this here is pretty special to me,” Buro said Aug. 2.

In a Morrill’s Corner building that was once home to Spurwink Services, PTRC will offer substance-use detox care for men and women age 18 and up, with stays likely to be five to eight days, Buro said.

Buro’s work in the recovery community started after his own recovery began in 2007. The former heroin user said he knows the difficulties of withdrawal and detox, and the challenges of moving forward and regaining a life.

He is the former president of The Family Restored, where he remains a board member. He has also worked and been treated at The Plymouth House in Plymouth, New Hampshire.

More recently, Buro was program director at Immersion Recovery Center in Boynton Beach, Florida.

“This is a medical facility first,” Buro said. “This is at the very beginning, when people are at their lowest point.”

PTRC does not accept Mainecare, but 10 percent to 15 percent of the beds will be set aside for referrals who lack insurance, according to Buro.

Recovery is a process that begins before a patient arrives, he said. The first step is the phone call that leads to a preassessment. If the patient be accepted for admission, Buro said they will be picked up, if necessary.

Some potential patients will have mental health or medical issues requiring greater care than PTRC can provide, Buro note, so intake at PTRC will entail more assessment and a physical exam. The center will be ready to help people detox from all substances, but some withdrawals can be more dangerous than others.

“Alcohol and benzos have a high, high seizure risk,” Buro said.

“Benzos” are benzodiazepines, sedatives that include Valium and Xanax.

Dr. Timothy Carnes, who leads the medical staff at PTRC, said while detox is a key first step, the road to recovery is not the same for everyone.

“One size does not fit all,” Carnes said. “We are providing patients with information and evidence to make the best decisions.”

There are four single-bed rooms at PTRC, and some rooms have surveillance to monitor high-risk patients. Once admitted, all patients will have three meetings a day and be tended by at least two on-duty counselors at all times.

The staff also includes eight health technicians, seven nurses and three health-care providers, Buro said. The center also has a full kitchen and staff to prepare three meals daily.

The steps beyond detox can be very challenging if patients lack the insurance or resources to find sober living arrangements. Buro said PTRC is trying to help by renting space in half of its second floor to counselors, a social worker and others in the recovery community.

Not all the space has been rented, and Buro said he is interested in adding a family counselor, and someone who can help set up interventions that can get a person treatment.

“This is about treating the whole family,” he said. “People forget that.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Pine Tree Recovery Center Program Director John Buro said half of the Portland building’s second floor will be rented to independent professionals who work with people in recovery.

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