The cancellation of a contract will impact some patients in a local recovery and treatment program, creating barriers to those who are considered most vulnerable.

The Brighton Center serves as the only Medication Assisted Treatment program in Livingston County, through which suboxone and methadone therapies are offered. Approximately 22 patients use Medicaid benefits to pay for services, which requires approval from Livingston County Community Mental Health. As of December 31st, CMH will no longer be contracting with The Brighton Center, meaning those individuals will have to find care elsewhere. Program Director Karen Scott says no reason has been given as to why. She says discontinuing a contract for local treatment options is creating additional barriers for people who are suffering with a chronic condition and seeking help to stabilize their lives –stressing they need local access to care, treatment and medication services. Scott says the loss of revenue will affect the agency, but they will continue to operate and provide a much needed service to Livingston County residents on a smaller scale. She says the bigger picture is the consumers who depend on the use of their Medicaid benefits are losing local treatment

One person directly impacted is John Seitz of Fowlerville. He fell off of a roof, broke his back, ended up on painkillers and became addicted to opiates. He’s been in the program since April, which he says has changed lives. It’s tough with strict requirements but it has made all the difference for Seitz, who says he finally got his life together. He’s gained some weight and is healthy now but eight months ago, Seitz says he didn’t care about anything and just wanted to die. He says you do whatever you have to do to not be sick, describing withdrawal like having the flu times one-thousand. He says you feel it in every bone in your body and want to die, because dying would be easier than the pain when going through withdrawal.

Seitz says he his life has been great now that he’s realized what’s important and drugs aren’t the only thing running his life on a daily basis, adding his son finally trusts him again with his grandson, who he describes as his whole world right now. He’s unsure about where things are headed though, saying the trip to Brighton is tough enough to make but he’ll be forced to travel to Ann Arbor for treatment once the contract is done. It’s 50 miles one-way to the closest clinic, compared to the Brighton Center, which is 18 miles from his home. Seitz told WHMI it’s not just taking away the medicine but a way of life for many, noting the improvements he and others have made through the program, counseling and group therapy. Seitz says it all makes no sense and no reasons are being given, adding the lives of 36 people are up in the air and Livingston County only cares about its image, speculating the clinic and program create a “black eye” for the county.

Connie Conklin is the executive director at Livingston County Community Mental Health and declined to comment on the reason why the contract with The Brighton Center is being terminated. She noted that there are other providers in the surrounding area and they will work with consumers to get their recovery needs met. She stressed they will also work with them to address any barriers that may exist to receiving treatment. When asked about the perceived black-eye on the county, Conklin responded that Medication Assisted Treatment can be a very important service to individuals in recovery and one they are committed to providing to those that need it.

The letter from CMH and a statement from Scott is attached. Photo: The Brighton Center. (JM)