PORTLAND, Maine — Milestone Recovery, a Portland-based nonprofit organization that serves Mainers experiencing substance addiction and homelessness, has temporarily closed its detoxification center amid a staffing shortage.
Detox centers provide medical care to treat the symptoms of withdrawal from addictive substances. Medical detox is an essential first step in addiction recovery, since serious withdrawal, particularly from alcohol, can be life-threatening.
Milestone’s detoxification program is southern Maine’s only independent, nonprofit detox program. Officials say it typically provides care to 1,500 Mainers a year.
Milestone Recovery Executive Director Oliver Bradeen said he's been losing sleep thinking about where people who need their facility's help will go.
“We know how much the community counts on this program,” Bradeen said. “For a lot of financially disadvantaged Mainers, Milestone is the only place they can get the medical care they need to safely begin their recovery from substance use disorders."
That said, the organization has been seeing significant staffing shortages, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. Bradeen said they could not operate the detox center with so few nurses and that's what let them to suspend services.
"We were so reluctant to take this step," Bradeen said. "Nevertheless, our clients deserve the highest quality of care, and if we’re unable to provide that, it’s critical that we take some time to recruit and train new staff to give our clients the best chance of success.”
“While we’re disappointed to have to take this step, we’re optimistic for what it signals for our program going forward,” Milestone’s medical director, Dr. Mary Dowd, added. “By taking a few weeks to step back and focus on recruiting and training staff, we hope to fully staff the detox and work our way back to full capacity in this important program.”
Milestone’s emergency homeless shelter, residential treatment program, women’s recovery house, and HOME Team outreach program, will remain open during the detox closure, which will last until the new staff is hired and trained, according to Bradeen.
Bradeen also said Milestone staff will be available during the closure to make referrals to other resources.
To apply for a nursing position at Milestone, click here.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance addiction, here are some resources to get help: