Treatment Within an Ethical Framework
by Mike Yow, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer
The Huffington Post published an interesting article on June 17, 2016, titled “Addiction Treatment Industry Worried Lax Ethics Could Spell Its Doom.” At the recent National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) conference in FL, ethics was a topic of conversation in light of private equity firms and venture capitalists acquiring private, nonprofit treatment centers and converting them into for-profit entities.
NAATP’s conference was touted as its largest annual meeting to date. Providers from around the country were in attendance, including Fellowship Hall. What was new at this year’s conference was NAATP’s new ethics policy complete with an enforcement mechanism: if you are a member of NAATP you must offer treatment within an ethical framework.
What does treatment within an ethical framework look like? It means having a clear financial policy, not overcharging or inflating costs for services (both medical and therapeutic), not using “patient brokers” (clearing houses to funnel patients to a facility for a fee), and not pushing services that are not needed. Anyone who has been keeping up with current events over the last couple of years knows how harmful this kind of activity can be to both the patient in treatment and the treatment industry as a whole. We have all watched a number of celebrities go in and out of treatment followed by their death or unhappy outcomes that then become fodder for the talk shows. One has to wonder about a facility that charges exorbitant fees, allows patients names and treatment failures to be released to the public, and then shares the cost of admission and treatment with its shareholders. Where are the ethics in profiting from someone’s illness?
I believe NAATP is on the right track. I would like to suggest that treatment without ethics harms the suffering addict/alcoholic as well as the industry as a whole. At Fellowship Hall, we are ever aware and mindful of this issue. At the core of our organization is a solid and ethical mission statement: to help people who suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction, and to provide compassionate, cost-effective care while maintaining our commitment to a Twelve-Step philosophy. Our values include being honest, having integrity, being responsible and being of service. For the past 45 years and for the next 45 to come, we will continue to make an effort to live up to the hope of our founders, that we can provide a space for suffering addicts and alcoholics to find recovery rather than die from their disease. We refer to patients here as “guests” by design, as it was our founders who were clear that it was and is our privilege to have them here for treatment. We believe that if we keep our eye on taking care of those who seek us out, the rest will take care of itself. Yes, there is a cost for treatment at Fellowship Hall, but we believe there should not be profit, creating the balance between providing quality care in a cost-effective way.
Interested in learning more? Check out the recent blog post from April 29, 2016 entitled “A Call for Humility,” at www.williamwhitepapers.com.
Mike Yow began his career in substance abuse treatment in 1988 at the Crawford Center in Greensboro, NC. Mike brings a broad range of experience in inpatient, outpatient, and extended treatment services. He has been certified by the North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board since 1993 and licensed since 1998. He holds a BA from Greensboro College and a Masters from UNC Greensboro. Mike joined Fellowship Hall in 1993 and has served as Assistant Clinical Director since 2001. He helped implement Fellowship Hall’s Extended Treatment Program in 2011 and has facilitated the program for the past 5 years.