Volunteers of America breaking ground on new addiction treatment facility in Old Louisville

By Joe Sonka

Volunteers of America is breaking ground this week on a $3 million renovation and construction project in Old Louisville that will house a new facility offering addiction treatment and recovery services.

The facility will be at 1025 South Second St. (the former Planned Parenthood clinic), which VOA will renovate and expand in the rear of the building. In addition to operating a new intensive outpatient program on the first floor, the site also will house 16 pregnant women battling addiction as part of its Freedom House program, doubling the capacity of its current location on Shelby Street near Shelby Park.

"The Second Street facility is kind of our opportunity to bring a lot of services into one place so that we can serve the wide range of people that we're serving now in one convenient, updated, state-of-the-art facility," says Doug Scofield, spokesman for Volunteers of America, Mid-States.

Scofield says the new outpatient addiction services will employ a wide variety of treatment to meet the unique needs of each individual client, including counseling, therapy and peer support. He says that medication-assisted treatment will be available for some patients with an opioid addiction, but limited to injections of the opioid blocker Vivitrol and exclude Suboxone. Many of VOA's patients have limited ability to pay, but the facility will accept Medicaid and is working toward eventually being able to take private insurance.

Doubling the current Freedom House capacity for pregnant women battling addiction will fulfill a vital need in a city dealing with an escalating heroin and opioid epidemic, says Scofield, as the waiting list to enter the residential treatment program sometimes reaches as high as 40.

"The need is obvious, the need is dramatic, and I think this is a significant step forward," says Scofield. "And I it comes at a time when it's really needed in the community."

Louisville witnessed a remarkable spike last year in overdose runs by Louisville EMS and the use of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone on patients by these first responders — both of which have escalated in early 2017. Overdose deaths related to the use of opioids also spiked locally in 2016, though it is too soon to tell if that trend is also continuing this year.

"Right now, virtually every family across our community is being affected in some way by a growing addiction crisis," said VOA president and CEO Jennifer Hancock in a press release announcing this week's groundbreaking. "Almost everyone has a friend, neighbor or family member who has felt the pain and struggle of addiction. At Volunteers of America, we are committed to being a leading part of the solution to the opioid epidemic and this new facility will empower us to expand our service and fulfill that mission."

The $3 million renovation and construction project is expected to be completed in October and is part of VOA's recent $6 million capital campaign, which included Kosair Charities as a major donor. Scofield says some of the additional funds will go toward its endowment for operating expenses.