Charles River Recovery Opening on Norumbega Road
Late last week, the Owl flew down to 75 Norumbega Road and the former Wingate property which is now in the final renovations and approval processes to become Charles River Recovery, a 110-bed clinical detox and clinical stabilization services facility.
The Owl got a behind-the-scenes tour from Laura Ames, the recently-named (February 2020) CEO, and wow, what an amazing place with many upgrades and special features for the patients in treatment. Many of the photos here show a facility not quite ready for its first patients, but getting closer hour by hour. While I was there, numerous crews were painting, organizing, meeting, and completing various projects.
I first met Laura a couple of months ago on a tour of Norumbega Tower and the riverfront area–a tour attended by local land trusts and interested neighbors. Laura’s interest (and that of WFTA) is opening up a trail along the river there which could be used by the public, and perhaps especially the patients and staff of Charles River Recovery (CRR). While that path is still in the planning phase, CRR is in the final building and implementation phase, with a planned opening date later this month.
Charles River Recovery will be an in-patient facility with 44 detox beds, and 66 clinical stabilization beds. It is a voluntary intake center, and patients need to be 18 or older. Laura and I briefly digressed into a conversation about vaping at the high school age, and how nicotine is much more addictive than many other “hard drugs” or alcohol–but this is a facility focused on 18+ only. They do accept patients with other challenges such as Type 1 diabetes or physical disabilities as long as the patient can take care of themself. In other words, all patients have to participate fully in their treatment.
For the 44 patients in Detox, this is a full medical monitoring system and a 5-7 day process. The Detox section is in a separate secure area on the first floor, the patients eventually “graduating” to the Clinical Stabilization Services (CSS) on the second floor with another 14-31 days of treatment and a primary therapist. No outside visitors are allowed during Detox, and only invited ones during CSS for meeting with family, patient, and therapist.
The facility is opening incrementally–with 40 beds total to start. While hiring is ongoing, there are nurses, recovery specialists, and other staff who are going through training now specifically for Charles River. In addition, Laura is working to get the facility recognized as an “in-network” location with insurance coverage for patient stays. This will be completed after the license is granted which should happen in the next week.
When I asked Laura about what was special about Charles River Recovery (besides the beautiful facilities–more on that later), she answered with three major reasons:
“What I think is our major selling point is that we are a local public benefit company. This means our patients are coming from nearby, our staff is from nearby and we’re not flying in specialists who fly back out again. We’re local to the Boston area and that’s important,” Laura said. “We want to add value to the community.”
“We also want to be affordable and that is why we are trying so hard for the in-network status for insurance,” she added. “And finally, and perhaps most importantly, we have a great team–we start out by asking each individual ‘why do you want to do this?’ because it is not an easy job emotionally, and people have to really want to be here.”
It was then time for a tour of the interior of the facility which is almost unrecognizable from the former Wingate senior living facility. Upgraded quiet flooring, comforting color scheme and down-lit “front doors” to the rooms made me think we were in a high-end contemporary hotel. Things that might give away that we were not: safes in the medicine rooms on the Detox level, and doors that need to have swipe access. Please note that all photos are of rooms that are “in-progress” with final decoration and upgrades such as TVs etc still to come.
There are both private and semi-private rooms, all spacious, all similarly equipped and decorated. Depending on occupancy, many will have private rooms that look out into the wooded expanses. While Detox is all business, the long corridors of Clinical Stabilization almost make you think you’re just “away” for a weekend.
On the lower level, one can find an expansive dining room, an art room, weight room, gym and meditation room (there is also a meditation room on the second floor). Patients are accompanied by staff as they move between floors and into recreational areas, including a game room which will hopefully have some air hockey, which is the Owl’s favorite rec room activity. There is also a completely walled-in (for safety) patio where patients can dine, or just get some fresh air–in another space, there will be a smoking area which is the one vice allowed on campus.
Laura also showed off a library and reading nook with a fireplace re-invigorated from Wingate times. No books yet, but I am hopeful that a Weston Public Library book sale later this week will help with that.
While there are still a lot of last touches to be made before the patients arrive (and of course there is all the licensing and insurance paperwork), Charles River Recovery has already taken shape as a wonderful local facility to get folks back on the right path from addiction. The Grand Opening will take place soon, and one can only hope there will be puppies (yes, we did discuss therapy dogs–no comment) and dum-dums. Ice cream truck? Maybe.
If you know someone who would benefit from a place like Charles River Recovery, you will shortly be able to learn more on their website here. In addition, they are also looking to complete their care team and you can apply for roles on the same website.
Welcome to Weston, Charles River Recovery!