‘The attempt to escape the pain creates more pain.’
Most humans resort to substance use; because of the pain and agony, they are going through. The world has experienced the destructive side of addiction that has stimulated people into drug crime or slumped them into the doorways while their family members spiral downwards.
But less recognized are the people who survive the illness and recover from it, while lesser visible are luminaries who help them recover. For the last four decades, Joseph Pritchard has been the leading light of the rehabilitation industry. His mission has been to help those suffering from substance use disorders. He brings the kind of passion that can only come from having experienced addiction firsthand.
In addition to Joseph’s own recovery nearly 47 years ago and as a Navy veteran, he is nationally recognized as a leader in the field of substance use disorder treatment. He has been part of the ‘behind the scenes’ work shaping how care is delivered at the federal, state, and local levels through legislation, regulatory, and payer initiatives.
In his role as the CEO of Pinnacle Treatment Centers, Joseph uses his extensive and personalized knowledge of operations, development, and strategic planning to provide patients, their loved ones, and community stakeholders the opportunity to restore lives.
Providing leadership and vision for more than 125 facilities in eight states, ranging from inpatient detoxification and residential care, MAT, and ambulatory care services to sober housing, Joseph has built a team of renowned substance use disorder professionals, clinicians, and addictionologist committed to providing comprehensive patient treatment and care. Together, they treat more than 35,000 patients per day.
In order to learn more about Joseph, delve into his insightful interview.
Sir, please describe Pinnacle Treatment in detail.
Headquartered in New Jersey, Pinnacle Treatment Centers is a recognized leader in comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment serving more than 35,000 patients daily in California (Aegis Treatment Centers), Georgia (HealthQwest), Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. With more than 125 community-based locations, Pinnacle provides a full continuum of quality care, including medically monitored detoxification/withdrawal management, residential treatment, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programming with recovery homes, and outpatient medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder.
Our mission is to make recovery possible by transforming lives, communities, and the families we serve with treatment that works. We envision a better world where lives and communities are made whole again through our comprehensive treatment of people with substance use disorder. We believe there is no wrong door to treatment for substance use disorder. We want to meet patients where they are in their recovery journey and provide the treatment program that will allow them to be successful in recovery.
What was your inspiration behind venturing into the rehabilitation industry?
My first position was as an evening tech in a social setting detox on skid row in Philadelphia. It is where I saw the significant challenges of not only medically stabilizing the individual but how to ‘wrap care around them’ and removing obstacles to ensure a successful outcome.
What were the initial challenges that Pinnacle Treatment had to overcome, and what are the challenges now in the rehabilitation industry?
The treatment industry, in general, is very fragmented and often under-resourced. This limits the ability to drive care deeper into a community. Meeting individuals not only where they are in the disease cycle but where they are willing to accept care is a critical factor in being effective.
In addition, deploying ALL resources and treatment modalities supported by medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and science truly is the cornerstone of how treatment needs to be delivered. Enhancing a personal philosophy of ‘what worked for me must work for you’ to one that is broader and backed by science was not the norm and prevented many from getting the help they needed and deserved.
What is the current scenario of the rehabilitation niche, and as an experienced leader, how do you ensure empowering effective rehabilitation programs with a commitment to provide the best possible care?
For Pinnacle, our focus is on treating people who are suffering. This means creating a platform that removes obstacles, increases resources/treatment tools, and being part of the federal, state, and local narrative as we work to bring more services to more people. We deploy services from the highest acuity (withdrawal management) through the full care continuum adding resources like patient navigation and peer support to enable the best results. We also believe that ALL the FDA-approved medications should be available as needed within the full care continuum. Short-term withdrawal management to lifelong maintenance to be available to every person.
As a leader, what strategies do you implement in the organization to enable convenience for your patients?
We start with being available 24 hours, seven days per week. If you call us, someone is there. Navigating into care through a continuum and developing lifelong recovery support is absolute. More than 40 million individuals have a substance use disorder (SUD), but only five million are getting treatment. We must close this gap, allowing more programs to open, driving funding to support care, and reinforcing parity for this illness. Being an in-network provider with commercial insurance, Medicaid and Medicare are also necessary, allowing cost not to be a roadblock. Partnering with care professionals, legislators, regulators, and payers is also a strategy that drives services deeper and broader in a community.
Is the involvement of technology beneficial towards enabling convenience in the rehabilitation industry?
Technology must be fully aligned with a care program, from phones and electronic medical records to apps that help people stay connected. When the pandemic forced providers to rethink how to provide care, Pinnacle moved 85 per cent of its workforce to remote and used telehealth technology to continue to provide services. How we manage connectivity with payers and regulators has also changed. We have been able to provide more care in more areas because of technology.
What would you like to advise the budding aspirants who are willing to enter the rehabilitation industry?
First, you must have a true passion and love for treating people with SUDs. You do not need to be in recovery, but you must love this mission. Second, enter this field open-minded and explore all avenues of care that may help. Our industry has changed in the 40-plus years I have been in it.
New medications, technologies, and treatment modalities have expanded our industry. But the most important thing to remember is to be true to the mission and those we are privileged to help. Be ethical and transparent. You may be the only example of what treatment is, so making it a good one is vital.
Please give us a few testimonials of your clients/customers and a list of awards/recognitions that accurately highlight Pinnacle Treatment Centers’ position.
Aegis Treatment Centers, Bakersfield, California, Columbus Street location:
- “Best Drug Rehab & Alcohol Rehab Centers in Bakersfield” in 2020 by Expertise
- “Best Rehab Facilities in Bakersfield” in 2020 by Help.org
Aegis Treatment Centers, Pasadena, California:
- “Best Rehab Facilities in Pasadena” in 2021 by Help.org
Aegis Treatment Centers, Santa Barbara, California:
- “Best Rehab Facilities in Santa Barbara” in 2020 by Help.org