POWER Program

On Thursday, July 11th, Alvis and its partners, Franklin County Probation and Talbot Hall, are celebrating three successful years of the POWER (Partnering Organizations for Wellness, Empowerment, and Recovery) program. During its first three years, nearly 300 people have come to the POWER program for treatment of opiate addiction combined with justice involvement. “Maybe it’s because they’re all there for the same reason and they have that common bond,” says Chris Mullen, Interim Operations Manager at Alvis’ Jackson Pike facility, who admires that individuals involved with POWER are very much a team. “It’s really important to have peer encouragement whenever you’re going through a life-changing program.”

A life-changing program is exactly what the POWER program is. In the midst of the nation’s opiate addiction epidemic, this program addresses the urgent need for treatment in central Ohio. A partnership between Franklin County Adult Probation, Alvis, and Talbot Hall, the POWER program involves holistic, evidence-based treatment combined with court supervision, medication-assisted treatment (primarily Vivitrol), counseling, and behavioral therapies. This program is based at Alvis’ Jackson Pike facility. Up to 20 clients participate in the residential program at any given time.

The Process of Recovery

Accepted clients either self-report, or are transported to Jackson Pike by probation officers, and receive assessments and treatment plans at Talbot Hall, which also determines their residential or outpatient track. Assessments include determining if a client needs detoxification, medications and/or other health care. Following detox and the recommendation of medically-assisted treatment, participants receive their first Vivitrol injection (or another medication approved for treatment of opiate addiction). Simultaneously, participants receive medical care at Talbot Hall and group and individual substance abuse counseling at Jackson Pike. All clients follow their designated program track. Residential care also involves life skills education, cognitive behavioral treatment, and ongoing case management.

Treatment plans are highly individualized depending upon assessed needs, but developed according to a similar treatment structure. Clients go through the same Phases—Phase One is approximately 14 days, including detoxification/initial administration of medication assisted treatment. Phase Two (approximately 3 months) involves core treatment. Phase Three (approximately one month) focuses on relapse prevention, reentry, recommendations for aftercare in the community, and following up on any unmet assessed needs. Phase Four consists of aftercare in accordance iwth the treatment plan. Phase Five, the last phase, entails continuous care addressing one’s substance abuse disorder. During Phase One, clients remain in Alvis’ residential program and participate in ambulatory detox that also addresses medical needs daily at Talbot Hall.

Changing Lives

Many clients in the POWER program have battled addiction, but it is often their first time their addiction has coincided with justice involvement. Clients are taking a hard look at themselves and how they came to Alvis, then working with treatment staff to develop the plan, skills and supports that will change their lives for the better. Michael, a client, was born to parents addicted to drugs. He was adopted at the age of 7 and grew up on the South Side of Columbus. As he got older, he also became addicted. Michael attempted to quit for his children and when the attempt failed, he ended up losing them. “It breaks my heart,” he said. “This time, I got help for myself, because I want to live life on life’s terms.” He mentions that the Vivitrol, especially, has been helpful, and is going to help save his life. “I want to go to any lengths to get sober and get my family back.”

For other clients, like Christopher and Adam, this program marked a journey of self-cultivation and understanding. POWER, Christopher notes, allowed him to “learn a lot about myself while being sober,” including how it affects himself, loved ones, and society as a whole. “I lost my mom while I was in here on the date of April 27th.” Following this, Christopher went through multiple relapses, but staff stuck by him and continued to work with him on his efforts to change the patterns of behavior that have led to devastating consequences. The staff, he finds, are very supportive and helpful. “I just hope I can continue to take what they taught me here and take it into my everyday life… I’ve been in prison and in and out of county jails and programs and it didn’t really click until now.” One thing that stands out to POWER Client Adam, is “the way they change thinking. Ways I thought I was set in stone made me look at different ideas. To think things through.” Adam is performing a rendition of “Lost Highway” by Hank Williams, Sr., at the celebration on the 11th. He chose to play a song that “touches bases on men similar in my shoes.” A huge takeaway that he’s learned from POWER is that there is always hope.

Over and over, POWER participants emphasized the role of staff when attributing how they found their inner power to stay clean and work to successfully reenter into the community. Jacy, who completed POWER two weeks ago, states simply that staff “genuinely cared about me and my future being successful.” It was because of the committed staff that he was able to overcome the challenges that come with battling a substance use disorder. “Try to take everything you can from the program. They will set you up to be successful.” John, another recent graduate of the program, is also determined to move forward because of the support that he’s received from the staff, which entails “a bunch of tools that I’m going to need out in the real world.” He reasons that this involves dealing with situations, rather than relying to drug use/criminal activity, as well as learning new ways to view things, and different thought processes. He’s motivated to do this for a variety of reasons: “Just wanting to stay clean, wanting to be a better, productive member of society…for my family. I’ve got a bunch of little kids as well.”

Another client, Dave, who came in on May 7th, put it simply: “Great program, great group  of guys, couldn’t ask for a better staff.” Like other Alvis programs, POWER does not just focus on treating the illness, but holistically treating the individual. Whether it is GED courses or job readiness programs, the end goal for particpants in POWER is to truly become empowered so that they can turn their lives around for the better.

Alvis joins Stephanie Ward, Program Director, and Chris Ayers, POWER Coordinator, in congratulating current clients and graduates of the POWER Program who are now looking forward to a future  filled with sobriety and success.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

DSP Spotlight – Camilla Jackson

DSP Spotlight- Camilla Jackson

Alvis has locations all across Ohio, and we treasure our talented, passionate staff at these locations who truly care about the work they do.

One of these people is Camilla Jackson, a Direct Support Professional (DSP) with Developmental Disability (DD) Services at Alvis. Jackson was recently recognized by the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities, winning two awards that commend her work as a DSP with Alvis: the Horizon Award and the Constellation Award. 

The awards ceremony took place in Newark, and honored agencies across Licking County involved in work with DD populations. Many from the non-profit world attended, and Jackson represented Alvis.

The Horizon Award celebrates Jackson’s ability to match people’s interest to events, and helping them expand their horizons, while the Constellation Award credits her capacity in providing opportunities for growth and advancement, helping co-workers become the brightest stars. Both of Camilla Jackson’s awards highlight the outstanding commitment she has shown toward her clients and her vocation.

Daily, Jackson works directly with residential clients and provides them with services, such as assisting with medication, doctor’s appointments, cooking, cleaning, and day-long outings.

Few people get to work directly to change the lives of the clients of whom they get to work. For DSPs, however, this magnitude of impact occurs daily. Jackson stresses that patience is key in this line of work. “I make sure that the guys are in good health, make sure they’re safe at all times.” She finds, too, that an essential component of the job is “making sure you treat them right,” and making sure “they have a good day.” Outings especially keep the guys busy, and, according to Jackson, are always a source of enjoyment.

DSPs work with support specialists and provide individualized services to clients, who each have their own Individual Program Plan (IPP) or Individual Services Plan (ISP). They encourage Alvis’ mission of holistic growth and recognizing the potential in each of our clients.

One of the most rewarding aspects of Jackson’s job is simply being there for clients and listening to them. Jackson has been with Alvis for a year and ten months. “It seems longer than that,” she says, “but I really love it!”

The passion that Jackson demonstrates within her vocation is one of the powerful, guiding forces that Alvis treasures in its DSPs, and other staff located at our DD sites.

We congratulate Camilla, and thank her for the commitment she’s shown to making a #180DegreeImpact on clients, and the community.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

National Insurance Awareness Day

National Insurance Awareness Day

Happy National Insurance Awareness Day! The largest group of uninsured people are young, working-aged adults under 35 years of age, which has grown since 2016. According to a 2017 report done by the United States Census Bureau, 8.8% of Americans lack health insurance coverage (28.5 million) and private health coverage is more prevalent amongst Americans (67.2%) than government-provided coverage. 56% of Americans are covered with employer-based health insurance.

Alvis offers private, employer-based health insurance, and on June 28th, we’d like to highlight the many perks and benefits that we provide employees through our insurance package.

Most benefits are available for full-time employees at Alvis, and their legal spouse, domestic partner, dependent children up to age 26, and unmarried children lacking means of self-support due to physical and mental disabilities.

Medical insurance consists of 3 possible plans. One of these plans includes an H.S.A. account, in which Alvis contributes $20 per pay to help with out-of-pocket expenses. Dental insurance and vision insurance each offer 2 different plans. Each of these benefits is at shared cost between Alvis and employees. Basic group life insurance, basic accidental death and dismemberment, and long-term disability insurance is covered completely by Alvis. Short-term disability coverage, in addition to accident, critical illness, and hospital indemnity coverage is employee-paid. A 401(k) profit sharing plan, provided by Ameritas, includes a combination of employee and employer contributions that go directly to the employee for retirement. Alvis contributes 3% into the plan each pay period.

Allstate and Anthem are providers for Alvis’ insurance benefits. Anthem, in particular, offers lots of discounts, in regards to vision and hearing, fitness and health, family and home, and medicine and treatment.

In addition to the listed benefits, however, Alvis offers so much more. Through Anthem, counseling, legal advice, financial planning, and identity theft victim recovery services are among the items offered to employees, who are given access to an on-call, 24/7 Resource Advisor, who links employees to support, advice, and contact with licensed professionals. Also covered by Anthem is LiveHealth Online, which offers a similar 24/7 resource that allows for Alvis employees to speak to a licensed doctor, who can diagnose non-emergent conditions and prescribe medication (i.e., pink eye or bronchitis).

Health and wellness programs are also offered online through Anthem, which include resources allowing for future moms to get advice from registered nurses, smartphone apps tracking benefits and wellness, and video visits with nurses and physicians.

Alvis itself has a Wellness 180 Club. The Wellness 180 Club sponsors events that encourage general healthiness and wellbeing, such as wellness lunches and upcoming challenges. The club is designed to encourage wellness amidst the daily demands of life and work, eligible for both full and part-time employees.

This is just an overview (a truly broad overview) of the offerings within the Alvis insurance package. Other perks related to Alvis employment include COESRA discounts on movie tickets, shopping, theme parks, hotels, and similar items, as well as a Verizon discount, free training classes and CEU hours, a management development program, brown bag lunches, and the #OneAlvis newsletter detailing upcoming events and opportunities for discounts and benefits available to Alvis employees. Alvis also offers vacation and paid sick time.

As we strive to help clients make their own lives better, we put that same commitment into our community of employees at Alvis.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

The Origin Story of Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program

The Origin Story of Amethyst, an Alvis recovery program

In 1984, nine women in recovery began a peer support program. Their vision identified the demand for integrated behavioral healthcare for women with children who also needed housing.

“It’s difficult to get addiction treatment along with long-term housing arrangements,” explains Heidi Hess, Clinical Director of the Amethyst program. While Amethyst has been around for 34 years, it was only recently acquired by Alvis in 2017. This provided the Amethyst program with additional monetary and administrative support. In central Ohio, the Amethyst program has continued to be a uniquely supportive, holistic treatment center for women with co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health disorders, often in conjunction with extensive trauma. A huge factor that makes the Amethyst program distinct from other treatment programs for women is the fact that it allows for women to live with their minor children, and it specifically works to reunite and strengthen families. According to Hess, there are only a handful of treatment centers that work to re-engage children with their mothers. Most residences at Amethyst have more than one bedroom, and the program provides services for women and their children.

The Amethyst program is one of Alvis’ two integrated behavioral healthcare programs. The other one, Recovery Choices, was created to provide behavioral healthcare services to individuals with justice involvement. Many Recovery Choices clients reside in Alvis’ residential reentry centers and rely on vans to transport them between the residential program and Recovery Choices. Women in Alvis’ residential reentry programs and in treatment at Recovery Choices may eventually transition to Amethyst to support their long term recovery.

The Amethyst program provides both an outpatient program and an intensive outpatient program (IOP). The main difference between these programs is the amount of time spent in treatment each week and the overall duration of the treatment, with IOP requiring more time in treatment. Recovery housing is an additional aspect of the Amethyst program model. The primary goal is always a lifetime of recovery.

Amethyst takes walk-ins, and women are able to go directly to the main treatment facility located at 455 E. Mound Street if they are seeking assistance. For contact information regarding intake, click here.

“Clients come to us from all sorts of places,” Hess explains. Many come from the judicial system. “We work very closely with the CATCH court and drug court in Franklin County.” Women who receive referrals from those courts as well as women going through the shelter system are eligible to receive treatment at the Amethyst program. Prior to arriving at the Amethyst program, many clients live with relatives or “couch surf,” unable to get on their feet due to their struggle with addiction. Others are referred by word of mouth.

Effective treatment is always rooted in highly individualized treatment plans and follows a typical process. After a woman first makes the initial contact with Amethyst, she is screened by an intake counselor and recommended for a level of care in accordance with her symptoms. Following the intake, a client is educated in terms of the criteria she meets for the treatment level

of care. If she meets IOP or outpatient criteria, she then attends an orientation, where she learns about all of the programming. After orientation, she’ll be engaged with her intake counselor as her first counselor at Amethyst, and join an entry level group with other clients who are also new to recovery.

Once into the treatment schedule, a client will spend her morning sessions focused on treatment for substance use disorder, while afternoon sessions address mental health treatment needs. There are also lunch groups and specialty treatment groups to address topics such as trauma and parenting. Women who have been at the Amethyst program for a longer period of time attend a group called “Moving Forward,” which focuses on the steps they need to take in order to move forward and live independently.

Outside of the typical day-to-day structure, however, there is even more room for individualized treatment. On Wednesdays, time is given for women to attend outside appointments. On Fridays, women in the Amethyst treatment program attend 9am community meetings, which include all members of the Amethyst community. This is a time to express gratitude, offer words of encouragement, and/or seek help and information from peers and staff. Following this, a 12-step meeting is chaired by one client. In addition to the 12-step meetings, women take turns finding leads and guest speakers to present. For example, Capital University Law School’s Legal Clinic has come to talk about expungement and owners of a therapy farm have visited. “It’s a whole host of experts out in the community in any given field,” says Hess. After that, clients are split into groups oriented around trauma and parenting.

The Amethyst program provides services for both women and children. The Family and Children’s Team are dedicated to helping moms manage their children and care for their needs so the children are happy and healthy. Clients’ school-age children are transported to afterschool programs, which are free of charge, so that mothers can focus on treatment. The SummerQuest program provides kids aged K-12 the opportunity to come to a specialized summer day camp at the Amethyst program and participate in fun and outdoor activities. This year, SummerQuest kicked off on May 31, 2019. Campers go to places like pools, COSI, and the Columbus Zoo. SummerQuest aligns with the summer break of Columbus City Schools, and there are additional camp-type programs for children that occur over other breaks in the school year.

SummerQuest, afterschool, and other youth programs not only provide beneficial experiences for children, but also help to ensure that mothers stay focused on their treatment. Case managers assist clients with any needs for appointments or linkages to additional mental health services. Additionally, any type of Individualized Education Program (IEP) and/or specialty services are provided so that children of clients receive all services they would if they were living in the community rather than at the Amethyst program.

Services for children are individualized, so that Amethyst is able to be a one-stop shop for both children and moms. Treatment services are also available for pregnant women, regardless of their stage of pregnancy.

After being discharged, clients enter the “aftercare” phase of the program. During aftercare, clients meet with other recently discharged clients in peer groups, once a week, for 90 minutes.

Following the completion of aftercare, graduates of the Amethyst program can choose to stay in treatment for up to two additional years. “The odds of staying with us and being successfully discharged are very high,” says Hess.

Graduations from the program are special events for the graduates and their family members, as well as the current clients. This year, on June 28th, at the Columbus Foundation, 12 women will be graduating from the Amethyst program, a larger than usual class. Hess herself is very excited. “The most rewarding part of my position as Clinical Director at Amethyst is certainly watching a client moving from active addiction and fearfulness, and coming off of the street, into the light of willingness and wanting to recover, and wanting to be a real contributing member of their community and the society at large.” Seeing families reunite, teaching people how to live as adults in recovery, and helping others overcome addiction is, as Hess puts it, “My most joyful experience on a daily basis.”

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

Men’s Health Month

Apart from being known for iced tea, longer days, and fun in the sun, June is also Men’s Health Month! Alvis celebrates its male clients and the work they are doing on their journeys through treatment, recovery, and empowerment.

Men’s Health Month seeks to raise awareness of the preventable health concerns and diseases that men face, while simultaneously encouraging early detection and treatment of these diseases. June 11th-17th, leading up to and including Father’s Day, has also been designated as Men’s Health Week internationally.

Dubbed a “silent health crisis,” men tend to “live sicker” and “die younger” than women, according to Dr. David Gremillion, of Men’s Health Network. This is influenced by both physical and mental health issues that men, in particular, face. Men have a higher rate of suicide than women, account for 92% of workplace-related injuries, and are more likely to be uninsured. Across all ages and ethnicities, they are more likely to avoid seeking out help from licensed health professionals when they do have physical or mental illnesses. According to an article by Lea Winerman with the American Psychological Association (APA), this is largely due to the way that our society socializes men. The traditional masculine gender role encourages them to hide emotion, lack vulnerability, and “tough it out.” Winerman quotes Jill Berger, PhD, who finds that this masculine role is akin to the “Marlboro man—tough, ideal, and unemotional—that just isn’t compatible with therapy.”

In Ohio, men lead in death rates from cardiovascular disease, cancer, CLRD, injuries, diabetes, flu/pneumonia, suicide, and kidney disease. While not all of these are preventable, regular check-ups can allow for early detection, which can be life-saving. The more that we raise men’s awareness of the importance of seeking out help, expressing vulnerabilities, and practicing a healthy way of life, the more we will empower men to build successful and productive lives.

The positive message of Men’s Health Month is translated through the actions of the many Alvis clients in programs addressing their justice involvement, behavioral healthcare needs (including addiction), and intellectual/developmental disabilities. It can be especially challenging for anyone to seek help and realize the strength within themselves to embrace a #180DegreeImpact in order to turn their lives around. We applaud our male clients who have transformed their lives and who are reentering our community and living healthy, productive lives, while also empathizing and encouraging those who are on the journey alongside them.

We also thank our staff, physicians, clinicians, and therapists for the work that they do to address and combat the various health concerns and to overcome the stigmas that are common detriments to men’s health and wellbeing.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

National Smile Day

You’re never fully dressed without a smile! At the end of this month, on May 31st, join Alvis in celebrating National Smile Day.

As National Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, it is worth considering the positive effects of smiling, and what smiling can do, both for us and the people around us. According to certain studies that have been done on the science of smiling, our smiles (even when forced) are able to reduce stress and increase levels of dopamine in the brain. We naturally smile when our brains are happy, and our brains are happy when we smile. Additionally, smiling is contagious! We’re inclined to mirror the expressions of our friends, illustrating how one smile can truly alter another person’s  entire frame of mind and brighten their day.

Apart from instant mood improvement, smiles actually improve the brain and reduce anxiety levels and blood pressure. Likewise, because smiles are contagious, there’s a likely chance that you’ll be able to make good impressions on other people while simultaneously making them feel good, whether it’s for a job interview, or a coffee date. In fact, the first thing that we notice upon meeting a new person is their smile!

Perhaps most importantly, though, smiling helps make the world a better place. National Smile Day was started by Dr. Tim Stirneman and Jim Wojdyla of Compassionate Dental Care just last year when they wanted to convey the power of a healthy smile to the world. National Smile Day is also the day before National Smile Month—a month dedicated to  spreading happiness and practicing good oral health care—so smiling is sure to continue well into the summer!

Many of Alvis’ clients and alumni  have undergone great struggles, trauma, and hardship. However, Alvis believes that each person’s potential is more important than their past. We strive every day to encourage our clients and their families to find reasons to smile and find joy wherever they are and in  what they imagine for their futures.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

National Mental Health Awareness Month Fast Facts

When it comes to thinking about caring for one’s self and body, many people first think about exercise and a nutritious diet. But did you know that what goes on inside the brain can affect physical health just as negatively as a poor diet and lack of exercise? One in five adults in the United States experience mental illness, yet it remains negatively stigmatized. Mental health disorders can have a direct and detrimental effect on one’s wellbeing, so it is necessary to have information about these conditions and how to treat them. 

Throughout May, Alvis is joining the rest of the country in raising awareness about the importance of mental health care. National Mental Health Awareness Month is celebrating its 70th year. It was started by the Mental Health America organization in 1949. During the month of May, this organization, along with affiliates, conducts numerous outreach activities based upon a yearly theme. This year, they are expanding on the 2018 theme of #4Mind4Body. This hashtag encourages individuals to explore topics surrounding animal companionship, spirituality, humor, work-life balance, recreation, and social connections as a way to improve mental health and overall wellness.

As the leading cause of disability worldwide, depression is one of the major contributors to the high cost of untreated mental health conditions. In more serious cases, depression is estimated to cost America over $193 billion in lost earnings every year. Depression is a detriment to the economy and it has a negative impact on those suffering because they are losing income simply because they are incapable of fully engaging at work. One in 25 American adults experiences mental illness to this extreme, and it is likely that the individuals who suffer from these chronic conditions have been affected since their teen years. 

Of the almost 50 million who experience mental illness each year, over 10 million also suffer from addiction disorders. Communities that are already affected by other hardships are also facing mental health challenges: 26% of homeless adults are living with serious mental illness; and 24% of state prisoners have a history of mental illness. Addressing mental health disorders in this population should be a top priority as positive mental health habits may create a domino 

effect that lowers levels of crime and addiction by providing mental health wellness resources in high-risk communities. 

When looking to how many of those with mental health conditions seek treatment, the numbers are definitely lower than one would hope. Nearly 60% of adults with mental illness did not receive wellness services in the past year. Just over 50% of tweens and teens didn’t receive services. Minorities have even lower service rates in comparison to their Caucasian counterparts, with African and Hispanic Americans receiving care at half the national average rate. 

At Alvis, we join other providers in working to create awareness that we hope will increase the number of people seeking treatment. We need to make positive connections and encourage those who are suffering to stop suffering alone in silence. We commend all of those who are living with and seeking care for their mental health conditions for all that they do. We hope to highlight some of the people and issues in this community throughout the month of May. 

If you want to get personally involved, begin by doing some research on what your community is doing to help those with mental health disorders. Mental Health America offers a great toolkit that can be used to spread awareness on social media, and you can see one of their banners at the start of this post! At Alvis, we incorporate mental health treatment into our human service programs. This allows our clients to make fundamental changes and truly feel our 180 Degree Impact. Stay tuned to Alvis social media and our blog throughout May for more on mental health and how Alvis is spreading awareness for this amazing cause! 

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.