ELLSWORTH – Open Door Recovery Center and Hills House, a drug treatment program in Ellsworth, officially closed their doors Friday.
“They’ve accepted me wholeheartedly and they’re helping me still, and it’s a crying shame to see it shut down,” said Barbara Norrie, one of the women who previously went through the program.
Norrie and Jamie Thompson are two of the success stories to have gone through Hills House in Ellsworth. Norrie has been sober for almost a year, Thompson for almost nine years. Both credit the help from Hills House.
An off-shoot of Open Door’s outpatient care, that opened in 1984 , the nearby Hills House property is for mothers seeking live-in treatment for substance abuse.
Both officially closed Friday, and this week four women and their kids have moved out of Hills House. That’s something that has concerned people who’ve gone through the program before.
“It breaks my heart that there will be people affected who won’t be able to have a smooth transition,” said Thompson.
Former clients said Hills House is different because children can live on site with their mother as she gets treatment.
The more holistic approach includes job training and parenting classes.
“The thing that I see a lot of times with the women that I sponsor now is that they get out of treatment, all of a sudden get their kids back, and they’re so overwhelmed,” said Thompson. “I got a chance to live life with her instead of separate from her,” she said of her daughter.
Staff said unlike newer facilities, clients at Hills House are encouraged to get off medications to curb addiction, like Suboxone, and instead get to the root of the problem.
They don’t turn people away for an inability to pay.
“It takes time for recovery, it’s not something you can give somebody in a pill, it’s something people have to work for,” said Carla Magoon, the president of the board of directors at Open Door Recovery Center.
Barbara Royal, now the former director of Open Door, said the clients needing help always came first.
She and other staff said grant opportunities were missed, paperwork issues weren’t addressed, and the state wants them to relook at their record keeping structure.
They and the moms we spoke with are hopeful they’ll reopen.
“We were homeless and now we own a home and I own a business, I have two kids now,” said Thompson.
“You hear all the nasty, ugly things about addiction, but you don’t hear about the beauty of recovery…they taught us here to be proud of ourselves and use that to go forward,” said Norrie.
Magoon said they’re looking at restructuring and if they were to reopen they would focus more on the inpatient care at Hills House. Anyone interested in donating is asked to call 667-3210.