Five Directions, an alcohol and drug treatment center for Native American teens run by the Klamath Tribes, is closing.
“It’s truly a sad day for the Tribe,” said Shawna Gallagher, Five Directions director. “We are aware and recognize this is such a need for our people.”
Lack of funding is the reason for the closure, Gallagher said. Reduced funding from the federal Indian Health Service and the federal sequester meant the program is no longer viable. The Klamath Tribes is not in a financial position to fund the treatment center itself.
“It demonstrates the Tribes are volatile to the things going on back in D.C.,” said Leroy Jackson, health general manager at Klamath Tribal Health & Family Services. “It’s a trickle down impact at the service level.”
Closing Five Directions will have an impact on Natives here and across the nation, Gallagher said.
It was one of 11 such centers nationwide. It served Natives from Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
Without Five Directions, the closest treatment center for local youth is in Spokane, Wash.
Serving a need
Five Directions offered specific, cultural programs for Native residents, Gallagher said. The center used “indigenous psychology” before using Western evidence based practices.
As an example, residents would take part in prayers and smudging (burning herbs while praying), sweat lodge ceremonies, beading, drumming and making regalia. Bringing in the cultural piece teaches the youth to respect their environment and themselves. Once they respect themselves, they’re more likely to buy into the Western interventions as well, Gallagher said.
Five Directions served a need specific to Natives, Gallagher said.
“Alcohol and substance abuse rates are higher in Native populations,” she said.
Five Directions history
Five Directions has gone by its current name since 2010. Before ,it was also called Wemble House and Klamath Youth Residential Treatment Center.
It serves as a dual diagnosis center for youth ages 12 to 17. Dual diagnosis is when mental health problems accompany substance abuse problems.
The 16-bed residential facility housed youth for a minimum of 90 days and up to 180 days. Gallagher said the average stay was 120 days. Since 2003 the treatment center has served 451 residents.
Usage of the treatment center was not an issue, Gallagher agreed.
“The biggest issue is lack of funding in the facility,” she said.
Knowing Five Directions could close, the facility stopped taking in new residents in April. The last two residents will finish their treatment this month. The center’s last day of operation is Aug. 22.
Klamath Tribal Health will have to lay off six to eight employees. The rest of the staff will be absorbed into the health center, some to the Youth and Family Guidance Center, the outpatient clinic that will be expanded to compensate for Five Directions’ closure.
Gallagher said outpatient treatment services will increase to nine hours per week, as opposed to the one to two hours per week available now. The outpatient clinic serves both youth and adults. Like Five Directions, it includes a cultural component to treatment.