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Hoag opens on-site rehab facility in Newport Beach

Hoag Hospital has opened a 21-bed residential substance abuse treatment center in Newport Beach, the first in California to be located on an acute-care hospital campus.

The facility, called SolMar Recovery, comes at a time when heroin addiction and prescription painkiller addiction are soaring locally and nationwide, and as the Affordable Care Act requires insurance coverage of treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.

While a few California hospitals run residential treatment programs off-site, SolMar has the full backing of the nonprofit hospital’s resources. That includes psychiatrists who treat depression and anxiety that often come with addiction, as well as the emergency department, inpatient detoxification unit and 24-hour security.

Like other upscale seaside communities, Newport Beach and bordering Costa Mesa have a high concentration of sober-living facilities that market themselves as tranquil havens for recovery. Many are small enough to bypass state regulation, and at times their clients end up in Hoag’s emergency room after overdoses or injuries, said Dr. Michael Brant-Zawadzki, who heads the Neurosciences Institute, which oversees addiction treatment.

“There are the occasional cases where the homes are not equipped to handle people acting out,” he said. “This is a serious illness.”

Brant-Zawadzki said Hoag wanted to provide a medically based, responsible alternative. SolMar offers stays of 30, 60 or 90 days and accepts insurance, in contrast to the often cash-only business model for rehab, which can run up to $50,000, officials said.

“Most of the community can and will access us through their insurance,” said psychotherapist Marshall Moncrief, the program’s director.

For patients who enter without insurance coverage, the fee will be $18,500 for 30 days.

Despite the surge in addiction, Dr. Kelly Clark, president-elect of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, said there’s a shortage of medical providers and treatment.

“In as much as mental health care has been stigmatized and marginalized, addiction care has been even more so,” said Clark, who practices in Kentucky. “As a culture, we blame people for their addiction the way we used to blame people for their seizure disorder or schizophrenia or dementia or other brain diseases.”

The new facility is a two-minute walk from Hoag’s inpatient detox unit, which medically supervises withdrawal from alcohol, prescription opiates and street drugs, usually over five to seven days. SolMar is intended to be a seamless transition for those who need residential rehab.

Dr. Steven Ey, an addiction medicine specialist and medical director of SolMar, said only about 10 percent to 20 percent of those detox patients enter residential treatment programs after their hospitalization.

“I’m confident that will go up quite a bit with our program opening up,” Ey said. “Insurance will cover it. They’ll know they’re still connected with Hoag.”

Hoag received state approval to open the rehab facility last week and has had three patients enter after completing detox. It will open to outside patients Sept. 1.

Robert Mann, marketing director of Clean Path Recovery, which provides sober-living and post-rehab care in Costa Mesa, said he welcomed the addition of Hoag because of the need for structured, reputable treatment.

“The more people that create good programs that have these high standards and offer them to people who are struggling to get the help they need, that’s really a wonderful thing,” Mann said.

The 10,000-square-foot building housing SolMar was remodeled with a beach theme, including seaside photos taken by local residents who attend Hoag’s outpatient recovery programs. The entrance looks like a hotel lobby. Meals are served family-style.

Ey said he expects many SolMar patients will have multiple addictions. About half will likely be professionals with drug or alcohol dependency, and the remainder young adults dealing with opiate addiction along with mental health conditions.

“We increasingly see adults of all ages and backgrounds,” Ey said.

That observation is backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which in July said heroin use and overdose deaths have increased among all income levels, both genders and most age groups. Nearly half of heroin users are addicted to prescription opiate painkillers, according to the CDC, which also said that death from prescription overdoses has become an epidemic in the last decade.

Opioid overdoses caused the deaths of 263 Orange County residents in 2014.

Clark said she’s not sure if more hospitals will follow Hoag’s lead and open residential programs. But she noted some have branched into other areas of medicine, such as hospice or skilled nursing homes.

“I think it will depend on what the experience is of some of these early attempts to increase the rehab beds,” Clark said.