It’s been a long time coming, but the “red house” located on Martha’s Vineyard Hospital property is being leased to the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, for Islanders suffering from substance use and mental health issues.
The 10-year lease will go into effect June 1. It codifies the hospital’s commitment to donate the property to create the Island’s first community crisis stabilization program.
The red house was first pledged to community services in 2014, but because of delays in the hospital moving its billing department into the hospital building and other hiccups along the way, it’s taken until now for the lease to move forward.
“We’re very pleased and excited to get moving,” Julie Fay, executive director of the Island’s community services program, said Tuesday.
Some of the services that were intended for the red house — like a place to distribute Suboxone and Vivitrol — have been incorporated into the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services campus on Edgartown Road, Ms. Fay said. “We couldn’t do crisis stabilization beds here,” she said of the Edgartown Road location.
The crisis stabilization beds are designed to reduce the number of adults referred off-Island for inpatient care. Instead of meeting patients in the emergency room, clinicians will have 24 to 48 hours to evaluate them in a less chaotic setting for either long-term hospitalization or outpatient services on the Island.
Along with the crisis beds, there will be areas for group and individual care that will be used by the long-term-care program New Paths.
Joe Woodin, the hospital’s CEO, said he is pleased to be able to move forward with an initiative that means so much to the Island. “When I first got here, substance use disorder and the opiate crisis were front and center,” Mr. Woodin said. “There was a lot of concern, and perhaps not as much coordination as there could have been.”
Mr. Woodin said the hospital has had a good working relationship with Community Services getting access to detox beds and supporting each other with what is a complicated issue.
“They have the expertise to make a crisis stabilization program successful,” Mr. Woodin said.
The initial commitment to work with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services was made in 2014 by hospital CEO Tim Walsh, who retired before he could see it come to fruition.
Having the red house will decrease the number of people who need to go to the emergency room for evaluation, Ms. Fay said. “Our hospitalization rate is higher than it is on mainland,” she said. “There are fewer options.”
Mr. Woodin said the program will likely take some strain off the emergency room.
“We always want people to get right care and in the right environment,” he said. “This program is more comfortable, and a better fit for using those services.”
Community services has received a $50,000 grant from Tower Foundation for startup costs associated with converting the space. Ms. Fay said she’s not yet sure how much or how long the “substantial renovations” of the red house will take.
The renovated facility will have to meet codes of the state Department of Public Health and state Department of Mental Health, she said: “There are a lot of hoops to jump through.”
Martha’s Vineyard Community Services is excited about the prospects of helping people on-Island. “We don’t know how many of these circumstances could have been defused if we had crisis stabilization beds,” she said. Having the red house will provide a place to take a person out of a family situation and “de-escalate the situation,” she said.