Facing a dire financial situation, Serenity Place in Manchester will close its doors after four decades. Services provided by the addiction treatment center will now be divided up among a variety of providers in New Hampshire, including Granite Pathways, the Farnum Center, and Elliot Hospital.
Tom Donovan is the director of charitable trusts for the Attorney General's office. He started the receivership process for the Serenity Place investigation. He spoke to NHPR's Peter Biello.
Can you give us a breakdown of what serenity place had been doing and where those services might be now?
Sure. Serenity Place handled a variety of program relating to substance use disorder. They had a transitional living home for men and another one for women. They provided out –patient counseling programs. They had a contract with the Hillsborough County North Drug Court. And particularly important in recent months, they have been the exclusive recipient of referrals from the Safe Station programs operated by the Manchester Fire Departments and they were offering both respite care services for those referrals and they were also doing case management or wrap-around services.
Where might folks in needs of those services go now?
As part of the plan, the referrals from Safe Stations will be going through an organization called Granite Pathways for the case management and the respite care will be offered by Farnum Center. The transitional living programs, Lynn’s Place and Terrell House, will be offered by Families in Transition. And the Hillsborough County Drug Court will be operated by Elliot Hospital.
What did you find was the reason for Serenity Place’s financial troubles?
Serenity Place took on all of these responsibilities which have grown incredibly in the past few years with the opioid epidemic and they did not have infrastructure to handle these. It involves the ability to manage the increased number of clients who are coming in, requires the ability to bill for those services where appropriate to the state, it requires having the right staff to provide the counseling and together, all of those challenges just overwhelmed them.
The Union Leader reported that one of the reasons among those you described is that state medicate officials weren’t paying some of the bills because the services were not being provided by properly credentialed providers. How is it possible that people without proper credentials were providing some of these services?
I can’t speak to the specifics of that, but part of it relates to who is doing the supervising and whether the supervisor is spending enough time with people who are actually doing the one-on-one counseling. It is tough finding personnel in this environment with all the credentials that are required for a number of these programs.
What is the plan for the Serenity Place building?
That is the one facility that is owned by Serenity Place and it currently houses Lynn’s Place, transitional living program, families in transition will continue to occupy it for a period of time until it moves to another location in Manchester. Eventually the plan will be to sell it and use any net proceeds to pay off creditors.
Is it likely that there will be net proceeds?
Are the new providers, those taking over for Serenity Place, prepared to take on these tasks?
That was an important part of the discussion that we had. They are all larger organizations than was Serenity Place and they have experience working with Department of Health and Human Services, they have experience with billing, so we think they are prepared for this challenge.
As Serenity Place unwinds, what is the next step?
Some of the transactions in terms of transferring programs should take place today and some will take place in February. Once that happens, then we’re left with the liquidation of the assets of Serenity Place and dealing with the claims of creditors.