Major N.H. Addiction Treatment Provider Dealing With COVID-19 Outbreak | New Hampshire Public Radio

Major N.H. Addiction Treatment Provider Dealing With COVID-19 Outbreak

Dec 2, 2020

Eric Spofford says he's been testing hundreds of staff and clients at his addiction treatment centers after detecting more than a dozen COVID-19 cases in the past week.
Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR

One of the largest providers of substance use disorder treatment in New Hampshire is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. At least 27 clients and staff of Granite Recovery Centers have tested positive since Saturday, according to a statement from CEO Eric Spofford.

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Granite Recovery Centers manages at least 12 treatment properties across the state, including their primary residential drug treatment facility, Green Mountain Treatment Center in Effingham. Spofford said there are currently 14 positive cases of COVID-19 among staff members, and 13 positive cases among clients.

When asked specifically which properties were seeing cases, Spofford said only that they “have had positive cases at Green Mountain Treatment Center and several of our other housings.” Spofford said they’ve been testing all of their 300 staff members and 300 clients with help from the state.

Jake Leon, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said Wednesday afternoon that the situation is “localized” to Green Mountain Treatment Center, but said the state is only aware of five active cases.

“As with all outbreaks, we are taking this very seriously,” Leon said.

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New Hampshire, like many other states, is dealing with a surge of new COVID-19 cases. There are currently 4,694 current positive cases in New Hampshire, according to the latest tally from the state health department, though it is unclear if the cases reported by Granite Recovery Centers are included in those numbers.

Spofford said they sent word to health officials November 28th that one staff member, one current client and one recently-discharged client had tested positive for COVID-19. He said those were the first cases at any of his facilities since the start of the pandemic. According to his statement, the company immediately began testing all staff and clients, with help from the state. Some positive clients, Spofford said, have been quarantined, though he didn’t specify where, while others have returned home and are following telehealth treatment plans.

“It is important to remember that the pandemic has exacerbated the addiction crisis, both nationally and here in New Hampshire,” Spofford said. “Our goal is to continue to provide a safe environment for our clients to recover because the services we offer are even more critical than they have been in the past.  Without the availability of treatment and recovery, even more people will die.”

Spofford said Granite Recovery Centers has had a COVID-19 protocol in place that they’ve been following since March.

Group housing has been among the hardest hit locations for COVID-19 outbreaks in New Hampshire, with the majority of deaths occurring in long-term care facilities like nursing homes. But addiction treatment facilities in the state have seen relatively fewer cases to date, according to reports from state health officials.