State awards grant for Island recovery support center

Hospital building to become ‘a safe place for people in recovery.’

Martha's Vineyard Hospital president and CEO Denise Schepici, left, and Martha's Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) executive director Julie Fay stand in front of the "red house" that will be used by MVCS for a recovery support center. — Gabrielle Mannino

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS), in partnership with the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, has received a $400,000 award from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), according to Julie Fay, executive director of MVCS.

Last Wednesday, MVCS was notified of the award, which must go through negotiations before being granted, but Fay expects it to be in the range of $400,000.

The award will fund a recovery support center at the Red House, a building adjacent to the hospital which was leased to MVCS in 2017. The award was one of eight given to recovery centers around the state, and will have an initial contract term of four years.

“It’s a place for folks in recovery to come and spend time for recreational activities, support services, and housing assistance,” Fay said. “It’s a safe place for people in recovery.”

Recovery support centers, supported by DPH Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, are places where people in recovery can have peer-to-peer recovery support from volunteers and others. Along with having a safe haven, people in recovery will also receive educational support, basic living skills training, wellness classes, and sober recreational activities. There are seven other recovery support centers, located in Brockton, Greenfield, Lawrence, Marlborough, Roxbury, South Boston, and Worcester.

“We’re just really excited that this is another program for folks who are struggling with substance use disorders; we think it will be a really great program,” Fay said.

The recovery support center is a joint venture between MVCS and the hospital, along with collaboration from other community groups and coalitions.

“We are thrilled to be able to work with MVCS and the community to build a resource that can be accessed across the Island and will round out our services for people in recovery,” Denise Schepici, hospital CEO, said in a press release about the award.

Alcoholism and drug addiction are both examples of substance use disorder. Last month,The Times published a story about the opioid epidemic on Island and the alarming increase of opioid-related overdoses. In 2018, there were six overdoses, plus two pending determination. In 2017, there were three overdoses, plus two pending cases.

Fay told The Times renovations will begin on the Red House once negotiations are complete. While there is no definitive timeline, Fay expects the program to be up and running within four to six weeks.