CUMBERLAND – The Chicoine House on Nate Whipple Highway will keep its residents at an alternate location on Putnam Pike in Smithfield for the foreseeable future, according to Benedict Lessing, president and CEO of Community Care Alliance.
Chicoine House, a private rehabilitation facility managed by CCA, made the decision to move its residents from their location at 712 Nate Whipple Highway in Cumberland to a previously closed state facility on Putnam Pike in Smithfield last November. Residents at the Singleton House in Burrillville moved to the same location simultaneously in order to pool resources during the ongoing health care staffing crisis.
A few residents were transferred elsewhere on a case-by-case basis. All three shifts at the Putnam Pike location are currently staffed, which is not a realistic proposition for either the Chicoine House or Singleton House on their own.
Chicoine House is a dual diagnosis facility, meaning it has residents with addiction as well as mental and behavioral illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, etc. Residents require 24-hour care, seven days a week.
Community Care Alliance has found creative ways to bring in new workers, despite ongoing staffing issues brought on by the pandemic.
“One of the things we’re doing is we have a unique collaboration with CCRI,” Lessing told The Breeze. This collaboration includes a training and apprenticeship program placing students in residential homes with the idea of long-term employment down the line.
“We’re trying to think out of the box with how we approach this,” Lessing said.
The building on Nate Whipple Highway is still managed and maintained by CCA, although there are no residents currently living there. Eventually, the plan is that the residents of Chicoine and Singleton will return to their respective houses.
“We don’t know at what point we will transition back, or if it will be a different set of clients,” Lessing said.
At 16 residents, the combined facilities are currently maintaining capacity and prioritizing continuity of care for residents. Lessing affirmed that they have worked closely with the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals to keep all varieties of mental and physical health care in equal consideration through this process. This largely means keeping clients together rather than dispersing them to other residential facilities or returning them to Eleanor Slater Hospital.
For the mentally ill who suffer with addiction, stable relationships and trust are important facets of recovery and health management, said Lessing..
“Maintaining continuity of care, relationships with psychiatrists, nurses, case managers, as well as their peers is ultra-important,” he said.