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UCS, SVHC, and the Hawthorne Recovery Center Collaboration Offers Program to Address Opioid Addiction

Opioid Treatment Program to Begin in October

Bennington, VT – A new medication assisted treatment program for opioid dependence will be available in October at United Counseling Service (UCS). The program collaboration between UCS, Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC), and The Hawthorne Recovery Center, will offer a solution for high-risk Bennington community members in need of an intensive treatment program for addiction recovery. In conjunction with addictions counseling and other support services, the program will offer medication-assisted therapy that utilizes opiate replacement medications and observed daily dosing as necessary.

Dr. John McLellan, of SVHC, will provide medical services and Paul DiIonno, UCS Manager of Substance Abuse Services; will oversee the psychological and social aspects of the program. Dr. Nels Kloster will provide medical staff supervision and training in opioid treatment. The program has been developed to serve up to 30 patients in the first year.

“This program has been carefully developed with our partners to serve those with the most serious addiction issues and with significant consideration for the community at-large. This program is the first of its kind in the State and its planning has been extensive. It was especially important that we had the support of Governor Shumlin and Senator Sears throughout this entire process,” said UCS Executive Director Ralph Provenza.

“Our partnership with UCS and Hawthorne will allow for the best possible care, treatment, and prevention for opioid addiction in the community,” said SVHC CEO Tom Dee. “We are very fortunate and pleased that Dr. McLellan accepted this role, to provide the type of exceptional care that SVHC is known for, in the program.

This program is the first of its kind in Vermont and varies from the traditional “hub” and “spoke” system. Due to the complexities of treating serious addiction, developing clinical and medical protocols can take significant time to ensure that the right program is created for the needs of the community. The goal of the program is to provide intensive services that reduce illegal use and offer much needed treatment to those in need.

The program will include medically assisted treatment with observed dosing, biological, psychological, and social assessments, random required urine screening, group therapy, case management, and client counseling.
“When putting together a program like this it’s important to be treating the disease not just with medication but also with the necessary psychological and social supports,” said UCS Director of Outpatient Mental Health Peg Gregory. “We were very focused on developing a program that will serve as a benefit to the community and something they can be proud of.”

“Opioid addiction has been widely recognized as an issue impacting communities throughout the state and country. It’s significant that here in Bennington we will be able to provide the services necessary to treat the disease and also spread awareness to fight addiction,” said Paul DiIonno.





United Counseling Service
Incorporated in 1958, UCS provides Bennington County with nationally recognized community-based mental health and human social services for children, adults, families, and seniors with the mission of “Building a Stronger Community by Empowering individuals and families to live healthy and meaningful lives.”


Southwestern Vermont Health Care
SVHC is an integrated health system serving Bennington and Windham Counties in Vermont, Eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties in New York, and Northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC consists of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, and the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation in Bennington; SVMC Northshire Campus in Manchester, SVMC Deerfield Valley Campus in Wilmington, Mountain Medical at the base of Mount Snow in West Dover, and the SVHC Foundation. SVMC’s multispecialty medical group is operated in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians and provides a wide range of primary and specialty care to the region. To learn more, visit


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