Jan 23, 2024

MAMH has long advocated for the development of effective support for people experiencing crisis related to mental health and substance use conditions, with a focus on reducing rates of arrest, incarceration, an unnecessary hospitalization.

I’m excited to share the news that the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) today chose Vinfen as its clinical partner to operate the Middlesex County Restoration Center. This is a significant milestone in the multi-year effort to build an alternative to arrest or emergency room transport for individuals in need of integrated behavioral health care by providing a full continuum of services under the umbrella of one provider, a comprehensive community behavioral health center (CBHC). With a “no wrong door” policy, the Center will provide walk-in, ambulance, and police drop-off options for those in need.

I have served, along with Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian, as co-chair of the Commission, which has worked with robust stakeholder and cross agency membership since 2018 to bring this project to fruition. Today’s announcement is possible only because of the commitment of this legislative Commission’s members, including the leadership of EOHHS, the Middlesex County Sheriff, Senator Cindy Friedman, Representative Kenneth Gordon, and the Commission’s many critical partners, including U.S. Representative Lori Trahan.

The Middlesex County Restoration Center will meet a critical need by providing a therapeutic alternative to hospitalization, arrest, and incarceration for people experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Currently, when a person in crisis or their family member calls 911, responding police have few options to ensure the person receives support and is connected with longer-term services to address challenges with mental health or substance use conditions, and the associated negative social determinants such as housing, food, and economic insecurity. As a result, more than half of people incarcerated at the Middlesex Jail and House of Correction have a diagnosed mental health condition, and more than 90 percent of those with a mental health condition have a history of substance use.

The new Restoration Center will provide a range of services to support a person in crisis, including triage and assessment, psychiatric crisis stabilization and low-threshold beds for substance use conditions, crisis respite beds for up to two weeks, case management, and aftercare planning.

By diverting people away from jail and into a more therapeutic environment, we will be able to provide more effective support while minimizing unnecessary involvement with the criminal legal system. Diversionary models like the Restoration Center have proven effective in other states at increasing quality of life for people living with behavioral or substance use challenges and reducing cost across the criminal legal and health care spectrum.

Sheriff Koutoujian and I are looking forward to working with a trusted and local partner, Vinfen, to establish the Restoration Center and begin to provide services. Vinfen is a leading nonprofit provider of community-based services for adults and youth with mental health conditions, developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges. As a designated Community Behavioral Health Center, Vinfen already provides mobile crisis intervention, urgent outpatient behavioral health treatment and community crisis stabilization.

Today's announcement marks a major milestone for the Restoration Center and a significant improvement in the quality of crisis services available in the Commonwealth. You can learn more about the work of the Middlesex County Restoration Center here.

For more information:

News release

Middlesex Restoration Center Commission awards crisis diversion pilot to Vinfen (Lowell Sun)


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