Caron Takes Innovative, Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Treating Healthcare Professionals
Wernersville, Pennsylvania (April 25, 2016) – Caron Treatment Centers announced today that it has expanded its dedicated services for physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. The program, located at its Pennsylvania facility, offers a dedicated building with credentialed clinicians who have extensive expertise in treating this population and assisting with their re-entry into the workplace.
For the past five years, Caron provided treatment to healthcare professionals in various Caron programs through specialty groups and individual sessions. This evolved into a fully separate program for healthcare professionals as the population greatly benefited from a safe community to process specific issues, such as ongoing access to addictive medication and extensive stress. Additionally, a separate building offers more opportunities for fellowship among healthcare professionals, allowing those farther along in the recovery process to help those in early recovery.
“Healthcare professionals experience a significant amount of guilt and shame due to the nature of their profession,” said Doug Tieman, President and CEO of Caron. “It’s critical that the treatment they receive addresses the specialized needs of their individual and family circumstances in a safe and stigma-free environment.”
The program is led by Dr. Greg Gable, a licensed clinical psychologist who has worked with Pennsylvania Physicians’ Health Programs (PA PHP) for more than 20 years and Dr. Joseph Garbely, Caron’s Medical Director, who is an Internist, Board certified in psychiatry and addiction medicine. Dr. Garbely also has more than 16 years of experience working with this specialized population in the residential and outpatient setting.
PHPs, which are overseen by a state federation, typically provide support and advocacy to physicians struggling with addiction or physical or mental challenges. Many of Caron’s patients, both past and present, have been connected to PHP programs in the following states: Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Washington D.C. Some patients have even come from Ontario, Canada to access Caron’s assessment program for healthcare professionals. In most cases, there is a formal process to becoming an approved assessment provider and/or treatment provider for a Physician Health or Peer Assistance Program.
“Healthcare professionals can be particularly vulnerable to addiction because they are very intelligent, self-reliant and often mistakenly believe they can control their substance use,” said Dr. Garbely. “This personality type combined with their easy access to medication and lack of training and education about addiction elevates their risk.”
PHPs are particularly favorable to Caron because of the organization’s not-for-profit status, and the highly skilled treatment team who have expertise in complicated cases, involving co-occurring issues such as chronic pain, cognitive impairment, family of origin issues, mental health, sexual disorders and trauma. The medical team has completed addiction medicine fellowships and/or are board certified in addiction medicine. The clinicians are trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) for PTSD, Experiential Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
Caron also coordinates with referents, colleagues and PHPs to create individualized recovery plans that address workplace safety, re-entry to their practice, physician fellowship and identification of barriers to sustained sobriety. My First Year of Recovery (MFYR), Caron’s private, online social platform personalized for recent patients and their families, may be appropriate for Caron’s healthcare professionals patients who can not access advocacy from a PHP or other organization in their state. Some states do not have such programs, and other states may only extend their services to a particular subset of healthcare professionals. Individuals enrolled in MFYR are given a personalized post-treatment plan, which includes a year of monitoring and biological testing. The program is designed by clinical support staff to help alumni, their family members and employers where appropriate, navigate the challenges of maintaining sobriety in early recovery.
Additionally, Caron’s clinical team is on the front lines in educating physicians about substance abuse and healthcare professionals. They provide Grand Rounds at other health care facilities and raise awareness about the signs of impairment, such as frequently rescheduling appointments, missing procedures and medications disappearing from the office. Caron is a leader in training addiction medicine physicians, having established a fellowship approved by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM). The fellowship is in partnership with the Reading Health System.
“Our culture is such that we tend to have difficulty recognizing signs of impairment in those around us and we tend to try to normalize and rationalize behavior,” said Dr. Gable. “We encourage healthcare professionals to trust their gut -- that when they find themselves really concerned about a colleague, it’s likely that there is a problem. It is always better to take some action, such as seeking direction from experts, or simply expressing concern to the individual. This may not produce an immediate result but may help move the individual toward recognizing he or she has a problem.”
By Kristin Sowada
By Dr. Michael McCormick