Capital campaign kicks off for Samaritan rehab building

Samaritan Health Services launched its capital campaign Sept. 6 for the construction of its Samaritan Treatment and Recovery Services (STARS) facility.

The two-story, 16-bed facility, to be located at the north end of Lebanon at the intersection of Santiam Highway and Tangent Street, is estimated to cost $4 million, but construction will begin after the first $2 million is raised. Samaritan has already collected some $800,000.

STARS will serve all of Oregon, but priority will be given to residents of Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties, which are Samaritan’s three service areas.

The residential treatment service will be an intensive, monitored, and evidence-based program for men and women over the age of 18, said Marty Cahill, CEO of Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital. The program will be measured carefully so Samaritan can ensure it is based on success rates that meet or beat the national average.

Addictions cost Oregon taxpayers nearly $6 billion a year, he noted. For context, the state spends about $4.7 billion on public safety, and about $4.4 billion on economic development. Oregon ranks sixth in the nation for addiction disorder, but 51st in the nation for access to treatment. 

“Every dollar spent on treatment saves seven dollars on incarceration related costs, and saves four dollars in health care related costs,” Cahill said. “Treatment is a far less expensive, and far more effective way to go.”

Dr. Rick Wopat said at the campaign rally that when he began working as a family physician in Lebanon nearly 40 years ago, the leading cause of death for people under age 45 was automobile accidents. At that time, less than one-half of one percent of his 2,000 patients were on any type of chronic opioid. 

Today, Wopat serves up to 900 patients, 12 percent of whom are on chronic opioid treatment, and the leading cause of accidental death in the United States is opioid overdose, he noted.

“It’s not a time to name or blame for this situation. It’s a time to come together as a community, recognize the issue, and provide services for patients seeking treatment for their addictions or their abuses,” Wopat said.

Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist echoed what all had to say at the campaign, that this treatment facility is sorely needed in the region.

There’s a window of time when addicts both need and want help, but oftentimes they are turned away at that critical point because there are no available beds for them, Nyquist said.

“Wait times are three to six weeks, in many cases traveling halfway across the state or out of state. The problem with that, when the bed comes open, you can’t always find the patient and they’re not always willing.”

Having an empty bed available during that window of time can make an impact on the problem and in the community, he said.

Mayor Paul Aziz also addressed the crowd, explaining that Samaritan’s treatment facility is in line with Lebanon’s 2040 Vision, which calls for awareness of and access to healthcare services for a healthy community. 

“This new treatment recovery facility will fill a void that we don’t have here in East Linn County,” Aziz said.

Until the STARS facility opens, Samaritan Health Services will begin an outpatient clinic in Lebanon next month for individuals struggling with substance abuse, according to a press release. 

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) allocated two grants to address outreach services, strengthen medically assisted treatment services and cut down on drug overdoses in the region. These grants include a three-year, $750,000 grant to pay for staff positions related to opioid addiction treatment. 

The second grant helps finance outreach staff positions for Sweet Home and Brownsville.

The outpatient clinic will be temporarily located in the Lebanon Business Plaza, 100 Mullins Dr., Suite C2, and will move to the new STARS facility when it opens.

For more information about outpatient services available through Samaritan Treatment and Recovery Services, visit samhealth.org/Recovery or call (541) 451-6388. 

To donate, visit samhealth.org/SupportRecovery or contact your local Samaritan Foundations representative in Albany (541-812-4705), Corvallis (844-768-4256) or Lebanon (541-451-7063).