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Magellan pilot proves effectiveness of community-based treatment alternatives

October 6, 2010
by Press Release
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Avon, CT — Magellan Health Services, an industry leader in specialty healthcare management, announced findings from a year-long pilot program proving the effectiveness of community-based alternatives to traditional residential treatment. Among the program’s key conclusions is data showing youth with serious emotional disturbance spent an average of five fewer months in treatment facilities when community-based interventions were part of their treatment.

“The outcomes from this program clearly demonstrate the need for a fundamental change in the way that residential treatment is provided to children and adolescents,” said Diane Marciano, general manager of Magellan’s Lehigh Valley Care Management Center in Pennsylvania, which manages behavioral health services for individuals in the Pennsylvania counties where the program was conducted. “The traditional approach of taking a child out of his or her home for long periods of time for behavioral health treatment rarely addresses the root of the problem. For most, a community-based intervention that involves the family is a more effective alternative.”

Launched in May 2009, the program was developed by Magellan in collaboration with Lehigh and Northampton counties in Pennsylvania and three local providers of residential treatment services. Together, they designed a program built around a Short-Term Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) model that reduced the amount of time participants spent in a residential treatment facility compared to traditional standards.

During the youth’s time in residential treatment, usually 60 to 120 days, a team comprising a clinician and case manager simultaneously worked with participants and their families and began comprehensive discharge planning focused on building community-based supports and ongoing, community-based treatment. Family involvement continued when the child returned home, with family therapy occurring at least once a week.

“Because each team had a small caseload—a key component of the program—they could observe the child or adolescent in his or her natural setting, address situations that usually occur in the home, and support the positive changes the family needed to make while building on their strengths,” explained Jeffrey M. Friedman, PhD, LCSW, QCSW, director of clinical services at Warwick House, one of the RTF providers. The Shawnee Academy and the Children’s Home of Reading are the other RTF providers.

Once the child was discharged, the RTF team maintained contact with the family through home visits and phone calls or treatment team meetings.

Data for participants were collected during their involvement in the program and post-discharge for 12 months. These data were compared with data from youth enrolled in traditional residential treatment. Among the findings:

- The average length of stay in Short-Term RTF was 171 days shorter than for traditional RTF services during a three-year period.
- No residential treatment facility readmissions occurred following treatment in the first 12 months of Short-Term RTF—compared with an average of six readmissions for traditional RTF programs during a three-year period.
- Youth placed in a Short-Term RTF program were discharged approximately five months sooner and were not likely to be readmitted to another RTF program within 90 days of their discharge.

“This community-based alternative represents a unique solution to traditional residential treatment,” added Larry Schaedel, MEd, Northampton County HealthChoices Administrator. “We do not believe that children should grow up in residential facilities or be placed out of their homes and communities for long periods of time.”

“We share Magellan’s belief that children and families can achieve their recovery and resiliency goals to live fulfilling lives—because we see it happen each and every day,” said Allison E. Frantz, MPA, Lehigh County HealthChoices Administrator. “We are proud to partner with Magellan on this innovative program.”

“Magellan’s pilot program proves that innovative solutions can lead to positive treatment outcomes,” Marciano noted. “At Magellan, we are committed to helping youth remain at home with their families and achieve success in their schools and communities during treatment. Based on the results of this program, we plan to pursue more opportunities to provide Short-Term RTF services and help more youth and families access this positive alternative to the traditional approach to residential treatment.”

The full text of the Short-Term RTF report is available online at Or visit under Benefits and Services/Program Outcome Reports.