Responding to the continued public health crisis of opioid addiction in the US, Behavioral Health Group (BHG), the largest network of Joint Commission-accredited outpatient opioid treatment and recovery centers in the US, today announced their expanding footprint and service lines with the acquisition of Wellness Ambulatory Care in Knoxville, TN. The business employing 16 clinicians, counselors, and staff will become known as BHG Medical Services — Knoxville.
This move creates two significant opportunities to expand services across the state of Tennessee. First, it improves access to care for patients with opioid use disorder, offering choice in treatment modalities to best fit the needs of each patient. Second, it brings to BHG an enhanced range of mental health services through general psychiatric services for patients diagnosed with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health disorders. BHG is committed to providing the full continuum of care for substance use disorders generally and the merger with Wellness Ambulatory Care provides the clinical model of the future.
In Tennessee, the need is pressing. “In a 2018 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the state of Tennessee ranked 11th in states reporting past year opioid use disorder. That means some 56,000 Tennesseans were already aware that they had OUD, and another 120,000 adults reported needing but not receiving treatment for illicit drug use that same year,” explained Jay Higham, BHG Chief Executive Officer. “This is a growing epidemic and we need to act decisively to save our communities.
To be effective long term, treatment must address the individual’s substance use disorder and any associated medical, mental health, social, vocational, and legal problems. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), the gold standard of care for opioid use disorder, utilizes FDA-approved medications combined with a full modality of behavioral health counseling and other support services for a comprehensive treatment approach to addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions.
Wellness Ambulatory Care compliments BHG in both staffing model and scope of services, prescribing both buprenorphine and naltrexone to patients with opioid use disorder. Patients also receive behavioral health and counseling services, as well as access to intensive outpatient programming designed to help stabilize more acute patients and lay the stage for their long-term recovery. In this office-based opioid treatment program model, medications are not dispensed on location; rather, patients are provided a prescription for take-home doses, a schedule that is especially well suited to patients in maintenance phases of recovery.
Higham noted, “We know that a combination of MAT services can be effectively offered in both physician offices and opioid treatment centers. Expanding into office-based opioid treatment programs opens a range of choices for patients seeking treatment and recovery solutions. The challenge for us in finding the right partner was identifying clinicians in the market who already understand this clinical model and are delivering it effectively today. Wellness Ambulatory Care was unique in this regard.”
“We knew that there was strong clinical alignment philosophically,” said Clifford Davidson, MD of Wellness Ambulatory Care. “We were impressed with BHG’s patient-centered, comprehensive approach to opioid treatment. BHG is a recognized leader in Opioid Treatment Programs, so it makes sense to look at a combination of clinical operating models when considering patient access to care.” Dr. Davidson, who will stay on at BHG Medical Services — Knoxville as the Medical Director, noted, “Our experience delivering general psychiatric services to a broader range of patients is an enhancement to BHG’s clinical model and enables us to deliver life-saving and life-changing treatment here in Tennessee.”
BHG’s approach to treatment is individualized under physician supervision in an outpatient setting. Through evidence-based programs such as MAT, successful recovery is possible. These programs demonstrate excellent results as measured by almost all objective criteria – abstinence from substance use, improvements in employment, family dynamics, and general well-being.
All BHG locations across Tennessee accept all three TennCare health plans (BCBCS TN/BlueCare, Amerigroup and United Community Care) Cigna, and both commercial and Medicare Advantage plans from Optum and Humana. BHG also welcomes patients who choose to self-pay, and TDMHSAS grant funding may be available for qualified patients.
The Company’s mission is to expand access to evidence-based treatment in underserved markets across the United States. BHG Medical Services — Knoxville is an office based opioid treatment program located at 6626 Central Avenue Pike, Knoxville, TN, 37912. With this acquisition, BHG now operates 11 centers across Tennessee for a total of 74 locations in 15 states.
Behavioral Health Group (BHG) is the largest network of Joint Commission-accredited outpatient opioid treatment and recovery centers in the U.S., delivering comprehensive, personalized evidence-based medical and behavioral therapies for individuals with opioid use disorder. With 71 locations in 15 states, BHG has more than 1,200 employees who serve more than 22,000 patients. To learn more, visit bhgrecovery.com.