Kane McKeesport opens Special Care Unit for patients with medical conditions and co-occurring substance use disorders

First-of-its-kind unit embeds addiction medicine specialists into skilled nursing facility.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Allegheny County officials recently joined Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and Gateway Health representatives to celebrate the opening of a 45-bed unit at Kane Community Living Center in McKeesport. The post-acute unit is for patients with medical conditions and co-occurring substance use disorders.

“The mission of Kane Community Living Centers is to provide quality nursing and rehabilitation services that enhance the lives of our residents, families and communities,” Fitzgerald commented. “We do that by listening to the needs of our residents and trying to meet them. That’s exactly what occurred in this case. We heard from admissions counselors and community services staff about the need for this specialized service. We were fortunate to have space at the McKeesport Center, and could move quickly to respond to this need by repurposing the vacant unit for this service.”

The first of its kind in the county, this unit combines skilled care and addiction services for patients who meet Nursing Facility Clinically Eligible (NFCE) criteria, requiring 24-hour care. Kane’s team provides skilled nursing care and works collaboratively with AHN addiction medicine specialists in the unit to provide medication-assisted treatment and supportive services.

“At Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network and Gateway Health, we’re addressing the epidemic of substance use disorders on many critical fronts through our hospitals, physicians, health plans and through community outreach programs,” explained Dan Onorato, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Highmark Health. “This new unit at Kane will provide patients with the right kind of care in the right setting, offering high-quality, high-value, addiction-informed services and the positive healthcare experience necessary to heal and feel supported. We are getting healthcare right for these patients.”

Recent Commonwealth of Pennsylvania data indicates that more than 12,000 individuals on Medicaid alone in Allegheny County have a substance use disorder related to prescription pain medications or heroin. Until now, following hospitalizations, these patients have lacked reliable post-acute care alternatives because traditional nursing homes aren’t equipped to manage addiction.

“This specialized new unit provides patients who are recovering from hospitalization and coping with substance use disorder with a good pathway forward,” stated Mitchell West, DO, MHA, medical director of addiction services at AHN, who will direct the addiction services at the new unit. “By providing them with evidence-based addiction care, we can offer patients their best opportunity to recover from their hospitalization and continue the fight to overcome their addiction.”

Program partner Gateway Health is a leading Medicaid and Medicare Advantage managed care organization and other partners include AHN’s Center for Inclusion Health and HM Home & Community Services, a Highmark Health company centered on post-acute health care management solutions.

“Gateway Health is very pleased to be able to support Allegheny Health Network and Kane in their innovative partnership to provide improved care for our members with substance use disorders and skilled nursing needs,” added Steven E. Szebenyi, MD, MMM, chief medical officer at Gateway Health. “By working together, bringing AHN’s addiction specialists into the skilled nursing facility setting, our members can receive timely, high quality care in a manner not otherwise available to them.”

The Kane unit has begun accepting patient referrals from AHN hospitals. Following an initial pilot, it will admit patients from hospitals across Allegheny County and, as demand allows, from surrounding counties, accepting coverage from all health plans.

Highmark Health, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, collectively employs more than 40,000 people and serve millions of Americans across the country. It is the second largest integrated healthcare delivery and financing network in the nation based on revenue. To learn more, visit highmarkhealth.org.

Allegheny Health Network, a Highmark Health company, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the Western Pennsylvania region. Learn more at AHN.org.

Gateway Health is a managed care organization that provides healthcare to a growing number of Medicaid and Medicare Advantage consumers. To learn more, visit gatewayhealthplan.com.

Photos provided by Allegheny County Photographer

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