By Jim Misunas
LARNED — At one time, Sunrise Inc., a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center, employed a full-time director and two other full-time counselors. Drug and alcohol patients resided at 523 Main Street in Larned.
The facility was designed to provide detoxification and halfway house services. The treatment center provided outpatient, residential short-term treatment, and residential long-term treatment care. Special programs were designed for men, DUI and DWI offenders, and criminal justice groups.
Now, Sunrise is working without a full-time director and without any full-time counselors. Patients have been forced to find their own living arrangements and several have been transferred to other drug or alcohol rehab centers, according to the Sunrise board president.
Kim Beckwith, Sunrise board president, said there is a counselor working at the halfway house for drug and alcohol victims, but he is seeing patients on an outpatient basis.
“We’ve had some success stories. Sunrise has turned some people’s lives around,” Beckwith said. “Some of the patients have gained independence and been productive in society.”
Beckwith said the Sunrise. Inc. board met Wednesday in Larned to attempt to develop a strategy to continue to provide future substance abuse treatment. Beckwith said it’s possible to alter the type of treatment options Sunrise will use.
“We’re staying open and a counselor is seeing people on an outpatient basis,” Beckwith said. “We’ve got to hire a director/administrator and a counselor and decide what direction we want to go,” he said.
He said Sunrise was forced to discharge all in-house patients several weeks ago when a full-time counselor took another job. Licensed counselors were required to have a bachelor’s degree, but Beckwith said SRS has changed the requirement to a master’s degree. Current counselors with bachelor’s degrees are not required to earn a master’s degree.
“SRS believes the requirement for master’s degrees is supposed to improve the quality of service,” Beckwith said.
Beckwith said Sunrise has fought a losing financial battle with reduced state funding through the Kansas Social and Rehabiliation Services and fewer court-ordered referrals. Funding is provided by DUI convictions and donations. Beckwith said it’s been a challenge to keep qualified people employed and paid what they deserve.
“It can be difficult to get qualified people to move here,” he said.
Beckwith said Sunrise relies on a competent board.
“We’ve got really good board members, and we’re getting suggestions from SRS officials,” Beckwith said.
He said the time frame for hiring additional staff is uncertain. But accomplishing the next goal by the start of 2012 would appear to be a realistic time frame.