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No patient will miss an appointment because they don’t have a ride

May 28, 2024

With support from Maryland Physicians Care, Meritus develops free transportation initiative to reduce barrier A Meritus Health initiative has made it possible for Joan Yarlick and hundreds of other patients to get to medical appointments they otherwise would have missed due to a lack of transportation. Yarlick moved to Hagerstown 10 years ago, leaving behind her car in California. To get to the doctor, she had relied on other public and free forms of transportation, but they grew unreliable and unfriendly. “That’s when I noticed the Meritus vans in the neighborhood,” the Baltimore native said. “The next time I had an appointment, I asked about them.” Yarlick was among the early users this year of the Meritus Transportation initiative. As Meritus leaders continued to note a barrier for community members receiving care was a lack of transportation, they looked further into the issue. “We are committed that no one in Washington County, for any circumstance, will miss a medical appointment due to transportation issues,” said Maulik Joshi, Meritus president and CEO. “Understanding barriers to receiving important care is paramount to improving the health of our community. We will continue to develop and expand our program to support the community’s need.” Meritus has eight vans, and those scheduling medical appointments are asking patients if they need transportation to coordinate a ride, no matter where in the health system they’re going. The service is already averaging more than 300 rides per week, which equates to more than 15,000 free rides a year. The Meritus Transportation service is an answer to a problem repeatedly raised by those surveyed in the Healthy Washington County FY 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment: Transportation to outpatient medical services is a barrier for patients who do not have independent transport. Expansion was made possible with assistance from Maryland Physicians Care (MPC), a locally managed care organization owned in part by Meritus Health and three other hospitals in the state. “As Washington County’s largest Medicaid Managed Care Organization, MPC has a large number of members that lack access to transportation,” said MPC CEO Jason Rottman. “Transportation is critically important to allowing our members access to health care. This includes access to primary care, specialty care and pharmaceuticals. The transportation infrastructure Meritus Health created is a game-changing improvement not only for MPC’s members but also for other residents of Washington County who lack transportation.” Meritus is happy to help patients with safe and reliable transportation, whether they don’t have access to a vehicle or the ability to drive; they are experiencing a short-term injury or driving restriction; they use a wheelchair; or they need more help walking than what might be available through public transportation. As for Yarlick, she’ll continue using the courtesy van through the end of her physical therapy appointments this summer. In the meantime, she’s made friends with some of the drivers who have taken extra care to get her from her home to her appointments. If you are someone you know needs a free ride to a medical appointment, please call your Meritus physician's office or our dedicated scheduling center at 301-790-9355, and one of our caring team members will help coordinate the details.

Understanding stroke: Prevention, recognition and management

May 22, 2024

In 2018, Meritus Medical Center was treating an average of 600 stroke patients per year. Since then, the number has increased to more than 1,000 per year, said Jennifer Smith, B.S.N., R.N., stroke care specialist at Meritus Medical Center. “We’ve seen a higher number especially since the COVID pandemic, but we’re also seeing more younger patients,” Smith said, adding that the hospital has seen stroke patients in their 30s. The reason for the increase in the young adults is due to how quickly poor lifestyle choices can affect the body and the overall risk for stroke in young adults. Experts have long known that diet and lifestyle contribute significantly to cardiovascular health. High cholesterol, diabetes and obesity are major risk factors. The American Heart Association highlights "Life's Essential 8" factors that have the most influence on cardiovascular health. Eat better, be more active, quit tobacco, get healthy sleep, manage weight, control cholesterol, manage blood sugar and manage blood pressure. Understanding stroke risk factors is crucial for prevention, Smith said. However, certain factors, such as age, race, gender and family history are beyond one's control. “That’s why you should follow up with your primary care provider regularly,” she said. Maryland became a Stroke Smart State in 2022, meaning there is increased focus on educating the public about the causes of stroke, the signs and symptoms of stroke, and the importance of dialing 9-1-1 immediately to reduce the chances of permanent disability or death. Meritus is working to get Washington County and Hagerstown to adopt a similar proclamation announcing they also are dedicated to being Stroke Smart. A part of being Stroke Smart includes educating the public to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Smith advocates for the BE FAST approach: Balance issues, dizziness, and nausea/vomiting Eyesight changes like blurred or double vision Facial drooping or muscle weakness, particularly on one side of the face Arm or leg weakness or numbness on one side of the body Speech difficulties such as slurred speech or trouble finding words Time to call 911 immediately upon experiencing these symptoms Meritus Medical Center, certified as a Primary Stroke Center since 2007, emphasizes swift action in stroke cases. Timely intervention is paramount to minimize brain damage. The more time between the onset of symptoms and treatment is more parts of the brain that could die. “It’s like they say, ‘Time is brain,’” Smith said. To learn more about stroke and stroke prevention, visit www.meritushealth.com/stroke.

Meritus celebrates groundbreaking of student housing complex

May 17, 2024

Meritus Commons to provide 340 housing units for future medical students Community leaders and supporters were joined by elected officials and community members Thursday evening to celebrate a groundbreaking ceremony for the student housing complex for the proposed Meritus School of Osteopathic Medicine. The complex, Meritus Commons, will include 340 one- and two-bedroom student apartments, a club house, commons area and dog park. The first 90 units will be completed in time for the proposed medical school’s first class to move in before the fall 2025 semester. The complex is just a quarter mile from the school’s flagship building, the D.M. Bowman Academic Hall, adjacent to the Meritus Medical Center campus, and will be accessible by a walking trail. “As we discussed our vision for the school, it was so clear that we wanted to provide a full campus experience for our students. It is essential that the students live here in Washington County,” said Dr. Paula Gregory, Dean of the proposed medical school. “By planting firm roots in our community, our hope and vision is that students will stay and practice medicine here and will love this community as much as we do.” Dave Lehr, Chief Operating Officer for the proposed medical school, told attendees the celebration was truly a celebration of Meritus’ investment in the community’s future, where there are ample physicians to provide essential services, one where the economy is bolstered and thriving, and one where higher education is accessible and poignant. “This is a critically important part of developing a world-class medical school in our community,” he said. “We aim to attract the best medical students in the country to our program. Part of attending medical school is living on campus, becoming part of the community and having access to all of the support that’s needed to thrive through such an arduous program.” Proposed Meritus School of Osteopathic Medicine The school’s flagship academic medical building, D.M. Bowman Academic Hall, remains on schedule for construction completion at the end of this year. The 200,000-square-foot, five-story building will house a state-of-the-art simulation center, simulation labs and a conference center that can host more than 600 people.  Economic impact  An independent economic impact study performed by Tripp Umbach shows the proposed Meritus School of Osteopathic Medicine will bring considerable benefits to the region. Capital impacts from 2023-2026 are estimated at $268 million dollars, with 1,595 jobs created and estimated tax revenue of $6.2 million dollars.  Once the school welcomes its first class, an estimated $500 million of economic impact is expected between 2025 and 2030, with more than $120 million per year to the Maryland GDP every year beyond 2030. “We know that health, education and the economy are all connected. Improving the economy of our region also enhances the health and wellness of our neighbors,” said Maulik Joshi, Meritus Health President and CEO. “We are thrilled to have a project that will improve and enhance so many important factors related to the quality of life in Washington County.” More information on the proposed Meritus School of Osteopathic Medical can be found at MSOM.org.

Meritus CEO: We can’t afford not to invest in our dedicated workforce

May 17, 2024

Hospital, health system commits to increase minimum wage to $20/hour over next two years Meritus Health, Washington County’s only integrated health system and one of the region’s largest employers, has committed to increase its minimum wage to $20 per hour in a multi-phased approach over the next two years. In 2023, the health system increased its minimum wage from $15 per hour to $17. This most recent investment will place Meritus a leader in the region and state for healthcare pay rates. “This is the third time in three years that we have committed to increasing our organization’s minimum wage,” said President and CEO Maulik Joshi, Dr. P.H. “Our workforce is our community, and a livable wage is so important. We simply can’t afford not to invest in our dedicated workforce.” The first phase of the increases will begin July 1, 2024, and impact 500 frontline team members, including Medical Assistants, Certified Nursing Assistants, Phlebotomists and Emergency Department Technicians. By January 2027, all positions will have moved to the increased pay scale. As part of the investment in its workforce, Meritus is also providing a performance-based bonus structure and incentives to long-standing team members as they achieve years of service milestones.  Joshi emphasized the health system’s goal to encourage local community members to begin a career with the health system versus a temporary job. Meritus offers employees opportunities for tuition reimbursement and educational opportunities. Joshi said many can enter the health system in a minimum wage, entry-level role, take advantage of educational benefits and earn advanced degrees and achieve higher-level career milestones and goals. Whether an employee supports the frontlines of healthcare delivery or serves in a support department, Joshi said working at Meritus means they are all healthcare workers.  “Every single position in our organizations helps us live our mission of improving the health of the community,” Joshi said. “We can’t provide the best care without long-serving, dedicated team members. We are thrilled to offer this commitment to them.” In 2021, Meritus increased its minimum wage to $15 an hour, four years ahead of state-mandated increases. That hike impacted 1,100 employees at an investment of $2.8 million. In 2023, the health system invested an additional $3 million to increase minimum wage to $17. Joshi said many factors, including turnover rates, cost of living and a desire of Meritus to be a nationally ranked employer influenced the decision.  “The cost of living continues to rise and as a result, many hospitals and healthcare systems are struggling with vacancy rates, losing entry-level workers to other industries with higher starting rates. Unlike other industries, we cannot safely operate with vacancies,” he said. “I’m honored to work with some of our community’s most talented and dedicated workers. Ensuring that we are supporting them and providing them with a livable wage is so important. They make excellent care possible in this community, and investing in them is paramount to us caring for our community.”

Meritus Urology honored by U.S. News & World Report

May 15, 2024

Patients who receive surgical care at Meritus Urology are getting top-ranked services, according to U.S. News & World Report. Antietam UroSurgical Center, which is Meritus Urology’s outpatient surgery, earned a “High Performing” rating from the pro-consumer media company. It was one of only 705 same-day surgical centers to earn this rating out of nearly 5,000 centers that U.S. News evaluated. “We are privileged and honored to be receiving this award,” said Kevin Hackett, M.D., with Meritus Urology. “It underscores the commitment and dedication we have to our patients and our goal of improving the health of the community. We’re all after the same thing: to provide high quality care and attention to every patient we see.” Procedures typically take less than an hour, with just another hour required in recovery. Care can include everything from an enlarged prostate to kidney stone removal. The practice also treats bladder, kidney, prostate and testicular cancers. Services are available for men and women, children and adults. “Our Best Ambulatory Surgery Centers project is the latest manifestation of U.S. News’s focus on ‘data journalism’ — using in-depth, unbiased analyses of objective data to help people make important decisions,” said Mark W. White, vice president of U.S. News & World Report. To learn more about Meritus Urology, visit www.MeritusHealth.com/Urology or call 301-733-0022.

Food, penicillin allergies have remarkable treatments available

May 10, 2024

An estimated 32 million people in the U.S. suffer from food allergies. But a new treatment that received FDA approval in February has a physician with Meritus Allergy & Asthma Specialists particularly excited. “This is a huge moment for those dealing with food allergies,” said Dr. Seemal Awan, M.D. “A food allergy can be life-threatening.” The drug, Xolair, increases the threshold for the amount of an allergen that would trigger a reaction, Dr. Awan said. For example, if a child has a low threshold for peanuts, the tiniest piece of a peanut butter cookie could cause everything from a huge rash to anaphylaxis, she said. Xolair raises that threshold so now “you would have to have a significant serving of that food to have a reaction.” Studies found that almost 70 percent of people who had multiple food allergies were able to consume the equivalent of about four peanuts before seeing a reaction. For 44 percent of those tested, that number was about 25 peanuts. “It’s not a small amount,” Dr. Awan said. “We’re really excited about this. It’s a great step forward in food allergies.” The treatment is available at Meritus Allergy & Asthma Specialists. But that’s not the only remarkable treatment available there. What is the penicillin clinic? Dr. Awan is also behind a clinic that can help clear the reaction for a majority of people diagnosed as allergic to penicillin. “Roughly 90 percent of people diagnosed with a penicillin allergy will grow out of it in their lifetime,” Dr. Away said. “And a lot of people are misdiagnosed.” Penicillin is the base of many antibiotics, used to eradicate infections. By clearing people of their allergies, it allows a wider variety of treatments should they need it. “It’s one of my personal favorite things to do,” Dr. Awan said of the clinic. “It’s huge. And it’s straightforward.” A skin test is administered first, and if that comes back negative, an oral penicillin treatment is given. Typically, this is done over two days, but Dr. Awan said it can be done in the same day, provided the patient has time to wait for the results of the skin test. Since starting the clinic last year, Dr. Awan estimates more than 100 people have gone through the testing and treatment. And rather than set a specific time or day, patients are able to request the test and treatment during normal business hours. To learn more about the penicillin clinic or Xolair, visit www.meritushealth.com/allergies, or call 301-790-1482.

Meritus nurses honored for their actions during Nurses Week

May 8, 2024

Meritus recently held its annual Nursing Awards as part of its Nurses Week celebration. Here is a list of the 2024 awards and winners: Amy Henesy - Daisy Educator Recipient Haley Loeser - Daisy Leader Danielle Miller - Preceptor of the Year Lily Bevis - Rookie Nurse of the Year Hannah Brunner - Clinical Inquiry Nurse of the Year Dr. Erick Kawegere - Physician Champion of Nursing Kylie Ayers - Excellence in Clinical Nursing - Community Health Tammy Ware - Excellence in Clinical Nursing - Clinical Support Samantha Kershner - Excellence in Clinical Nursing - Med Surge Tiffany Noel - Excellence in Clinical Nursing - Outpatient Areas Shelby Campbell - Excellence in Clinical Nursing - Surgical Services Congratulations to this year’s recipients!

Meritus earns initial approval to offer psychiatry residency in 2025

May 3, 2024

Meritus is the fifth hospital in the state to develop such a program As critical demand grows for physicians who are specially trained to offer mental health services, Meritus has received initial accreditation for a psychiatry residency program beginning in 2025. It’s one of several commitments by the health system to reduce the shortage of physicians in the region, state and nation. In July 2022, the health system announced its plans to pursue licensure and accreditation of a medical school to reduce the growing physician shortage. Meritus currently offers a family medicine residency training program. The psychiatry residency, which is being introduced in partnership with behavioral health organization Brook Lane, will be only the fifth psychiatry residency program from a hospital in the state of Maryland. Meritus has plans to continue expanding residency programs in other specialties in the next several years and plans to have more than 100 resident physicians. “Investing in these programs is paramount to providing care for patients for generations ahead,” said Meritus Health President and CEO Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H. “When you consider the growing physician shortage, the need for medical schools and physician training programs is essential to ensuring healthcare is accessible for all.” “As we continue on our pathway to seeking accreditation of the proposed Meritus School of Osteopathic Medicine and the graduate medical education program, there is an obvious need for more psychiatrists in the region and nationally,” said Dr. Bradley Miller, D.O., associate dean for graduate medical education who also serves as the program director of the Meritus Family Medicine Residency. What will the Meritus Psychiatry Residency program look like? The psychiatry residency will have five spaces available over a four-year program for a total of 20 residents once the program is filled out. The first residents will start in July 2025, said Dr. Heather Theibert, D.O, program director for the Meritus Psychiatry Residency. Dr. Theibert earned her medical degree from Kansas City University of Medicine, in Kansas City, Mo. She completed residency at Adena Health in Chillicothe, Ohio. She is board certified in adult psychiatry with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and in addiction medicine with the American Board of Preventative Medicine. The commitment to expand Meritus Health’s graduate medical education programs is a key component in Meritus’ mission to improve the health of the community, said Dr. Paula Gregory, D.O., M.B.A., FACOFP, dean of the proposed Meritus School of Osteopathic Medicine. “We can’t provide the care our community needs without well-trained physicians,” Dr. Gregory said. “By increasing our graduate medical education offerings, we are considering the future needs of our neighbors by developing the skills of those who will provide the care. Medical education takes years of training and discipline. Meritus Health’s dedication to education is also a testament to our commitment to care for this community. One cannot exist without the other.”

Meritus earns 3rd consecutive ‘A’ hospital safety grade from Leapfrog

May 1, 2024

Meritus Medical Center earned its third consecutive “A” Hospital Safety Grade from The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit watchdog that sets standards for excellence in patient care. Leapfrog assigns an “A,” “B,” “C,” “D” or “F” grade to general hospitals across the country based on more than 30 national performance measures reflecting errors, accidents, injuries and infections, as well as the systems hospitals have in place to prevent harm. “We are community-obsessed and that means providing our neighbors with the highest quality care possible,” said Meritus Health Chief Operating Officer Carrie Adams, Pharm.D. “It takes an incredible amount of dedication and commitment by every single one of our team members to earn this highest rating three times in a row. I’m proud of our teams for their continued and impressive commitment to providing our community with incredible care.” The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is the only hospital-ratings program exclusively based on hospital prevention of medical errors, infections and injuries. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public. Grades are updated twice annually in the fall and spring. “Earning an ‘A’ Grade means Meritus Medical Center made a true commitment to put patients first,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “We congratulate the leadership, Board, clinicians, staff and volunteers that all had a role to play in this achievement.” To see Meritus’ full grade details and to access patient tips for staying safe in the hospital, visit HospitalSafetyGrade.org. To learn more about Meritus and its mission, vision and values, go to www.meritushealth.com, and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Meritus speech pathologists have tools to help patients communicate

April 29, 2024

The speech-language pathologists who support the needs of patients at Meritus Physical Therapy are passionate about ensuring those in their care have the tools and abilities they need to communicate with those around them.  “Being able to communicate is not something to be taken for granted – and everyone deserves to have their voice heard. Something to remember, is that communication is not a privilege, it is a basic human right,” says Bethany Dunahugh, speech-language pathologist at Meritus Physical Therapy.  In an effort to support that basic right, two years ago, Meritus Physical Therapy started a program to help non-verbal patients obtain and learn how to use communication devices. These devices, called speech generating devices, or SGDs, are a form of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). SGDs allow patients to communicate wants, needs and preferences by making selections via direct touch or other methods such as use of a switch or eye tracking. Used by patients with autism and a variety of other neurological conditions, AAC is a great tool for building and enhancing an individual’s ability to communicate. These devices can be customized with many vocabulary options, different languages and dialects. There are many options for access – direct selection with hands or feet, eye tracking, head tracking and more. Dunahugh recommends caregivers interested in learning more about the program should schedule an appointment with the patient’s physician to discuss enhancing the patient’s ability to communicate and request a referral to Meritus Physical Therapy. “The process in general involves a good bit of teamwork to get everything together. Having the physician on board helps makes things go a lot smoother!” Dunahugh states.   Since beginning the program, 36 patients have received speech generating devices, and additional patients are awaiting insurance approval. However, these devices are just one of many tools to assist those individuals who are non-verbal, including those on the autism and neurodiversity spectrum,Additional services and support options offered by Meritus Physical Therapy’s pediatrics team include: Direct services and consultative services (based on individualized needs) Social skills training Implementation of social narratives and visual supports Sensory integration strategies Functional “activities of daily living” skill development and training Family-focused training and parent coaching To learn more about AACs or other services related to the treatment of autism or neurodiversity disorders, contact the Meritus Physical Therapy pediatrics team at 301-790-8613. 

At Meritus, one group’s mission is that no one dies alone

April 22, 2024

Of all the volunteer programs in the Meritus Medical Center Auxiliary, No One Dies Alone (NODA) is unlike any other. “It requires a special calling,” says Jessica Casey, volunteer coordinator. “NODA is not your typical volunteering opportunity.” But the program is an important one for the staff at Meritus, who have committed themselves to providing the best care possible to the community. It is also an important program for patients and their family members. The philosophy that drives the mission of NODA is a key component to complete care in treating each person with dignity, in life and in death. The nationally recognized program first was established at Meritus in 2019, had some stops and restarts during the COVID years, then came back fully in December 2023. The well-trained volunteers in the NODA Program are known as Compassionate Companions. These amazing volunteers commit to participating in vigils — day and night — for patients nearing death while in the hospital, and have no relatives or friends present. This can happen for many reasons, such as the person has no surviving family or friends, or the person’s family lives too far away and would not be able to make it in time before the person passed. There are about a dozen volunteers who work together covering shifts to complete a vigil, which can run from one hour to 72 after medical staff have determined that one is needed. It might seem somber or even frightening to voluntarily watch and wait until someone passes. But the Compassionate Companions do not see it that way. “I probably get more out of it than the patient themselves,” said Angie Viar, who is a Compassionate Companion and the lead vigil coordinator. “It’s very comforting that they know they're not alone.” The NODA volunteers’ presence also brings peace of mind to the medical staff who are caring for the patient. Especially during peak illness season, Meritus nurses, providers and CNAs are called to care for multiple patients and cannot always be there for the dying patient as they pass. During a recent group meeting, several NODA volunteers said they received gratitude from nurses who were pleased that the NODA program at Meritus provided these volunteers to help them carry the burden. “The medical staff, their heart is there to assist those who are dying, but because of their workload, they’re not always able to sit there with them,” said NODA volunteer Nicola Ohaegbu. What is it like to keep the watch over someone who is dying? “Each case is different, “Angie said. Sometimes, they are peaceful. The NODA volunteer can read scripture if the patient had requested, or other inspirational texts. Sometimes the volunteer will play music that they know the patient enjoyed, or simply talk to them so they know that someone is with them. Many times, volunteers sit and hold hands with the patient in comfortable silence. Other times, the volunteer can bring peace themselves with their very presence. For example, Angie said that once she was with a man who, though unresponsive, was unsettled. She knew he had been given medication that should have relaxed him. She knew the man was a local church elder. “I knew he was a good man. He lived well,” Angie said. “I said the Our Father because I knew it was something that we shared. Almost immediately he settled down. He passed within about five minutes.” Nicola and Angie described a recent vigil where the wife of the patient was in a nursing home, and both were in their 90s. When Angie was there, the nursing home had arranged for the wife to come to see him. “I was able to talk to her briefly just to let her know that I or someone would be sitting with her husband,” Angie said. “The look of relief that passed over her whole countenance, you could see that it was just a relief for her.” When Nicola was there a few hours later, one of the nurses called the wife and held the phone up to the dying man’s ear. “They say the last thing to go is the hearing,” Nicola said, “so the last thing we hope that he heard was his wife’s voice.” To learn more about NODA or other volunteer opportunities through the Meritus Health Volunteer Department, visit www.meritushealth.com/volunteers or call the volunteer services department at 301-790-8143 or 301-790-8486.

At 6 months, Meritus Crisis Center key in local addiction fight

April 18, 2024

Since it opened Sept. 15, the Meritus Crisis Center has seen 204 patients. Dalton Jones was one of them. “They are amazing,” he said of the staff at the six-bed inpatient Crisis Center. “They basically saved my life.” Meritus Health opened the facility to support the needs of those struggling with addiction as part of its mission to improve the health of the community. The facility builds upon the success of a pilot initiative, which featured three crisis stabilization beds, launched in August 2022. The Maryland Department of Health recently reported that the rate of fatal overdose deaths in Washington County between November 2022 and November 2023 decreased by 22 percent. Local healthcare leaders attributed part of that drop to the creation of the crisis stabilization beds. The program is for patients 18 and older who have experienced an overdose and are willing to go to long-term treatment for addiction. A dirt bike accident when he was 20 led Jones to being prescribed oxycodone. Once the prescription ran out, he was buying pills off the street. One of those was laced with fentanyl, which led to his full-blown addiction. “I lost my wife, I lost my three kids, I lost my house, I lost everything,” he said. Jones, who has been sober since Jan. 1, was dropped off at the Crisis Center by his mother, who no longer wanted him in the house. “I had nowhere else to go,” he said.  The Crisis Center program provides supportive counseling and evaluation of patients, and initial stabilizing and monitoring. Jones credits the Crisis Center for helping him detox. While working the drugs out of his system, the counselors made him comfortable with food and shelter. “If you're not comfortable while going through withdrawal, you'll never get clean,” he said. Patients are generally allowed to stay up to 72 hours until they can be accepted into a rehabilitation program. “Doing what we can to get people on the path to sobriety and rehabilitation is our goal,” said Allen Twigg, executive director of behavioral and community health at Meritus. “We will work with patients to get them the care that they need.” Jones said he was able to use the center more than once because the first rehabilitation program he entered was not a good fit. At the suggestion of the counselors at the Crisis Center, he entered a treatment program in Baltimore County. It’s been a success. “I get to see my kids now. My family is starting to talk to me again,” he said. “Life has been phenomenal.” Jones’ success story is one of many since the Crisis Center opened in the fall. Statistics show patients stay for an average of two days, and 68% have been admitted to substance use disorder treatment, which is above the national average. So far, only 15% of people cared for have returned within 30 days. “The Crisis Center is here to help our neighbors battling addiction, regardless of their ability to pay, who want to get themselves free,” said Meritus President and CEO Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H. “Through partnerships with community members, we offer this resource for the community as another front in the battle against the opioid epidemic.”

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