ELLSWORTH — Open Door Recovery Center, long the only place in Hancock County with an intensive outpatient treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, closed its doors in July of 2019. But it never really went away — legally and in the minds of the new board that stepped in.
The treatment center first opened in 1984 but visits by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services in November and December of 2018 found multiple violations. A conditional license expired July 1, 2019, and the then-current board dissolved.
The new board that formed has Bob Worrell as president. He is a part-time Sorrento resident and president of the board of Santa Monica House, a residential treatment center in Omaha, Neb. The board received a new license in October 2020 to open a home as a residential treatment center for women. Plans were to locate the center in the former Hills House, used by Open Door for the same purpose.
That property now has been sold, Worrell said, to help pay off outstanding debts left when Open Door closed. The legal entity Open Door Recovery Center is now doing business as Restored Hope.
“And Restored Hope is absolutely not going away,” Worrell said. “The leadership group is committed to the mission of creating and maintaining a long-term residential treatment center for women.”
However, while Worrell had estimated in October 2020 that the new center would likely open within a year, he has since learned to hedge his bets.
“I made proclamations that I thought as really safe,” he said. “The answer I’d just as soon say is that our mission remains unchanged, and we are taking it step by step to fulfill that mission.”
Tax filings accessed at the time Open Door closed showed it operated with a $160,300 loss in the fiscal year that ended in June 2018. It had $582,579 in assets that year and $706,649 in revenue. At that time, Worrell told The American, the organization “basically had no money” when its license was terminated.
The former Hills House sold for $265,000. Worrell said Open Door’s second building on Old Mill Road across from Your Place is also for sale. There, Open Door provided outpatient treatment and family counseling for substance use disorder and alcohol abuse.
The current board plans to use the proceeds of both sales to open Restored Hope, Worrell said.
Board members include retired Ellsworth doctor Charles Alexander; local business owner Mark Colbert; Kristin Cyr, Northern Light Health vice president for nursing and care services for Maine Coast Hospital and Blue Hill Hospital; Sheena Whittaker, senior physician executive for Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital and Blue Hill Hospital; and Worrell and two other Omahans involved with Santa Monica House.
Just this week, the Associated Press reported at least 100,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in the first 12 months of the pandemic, the highest number in any 12-month period to date and a 30-percent jump over the past year.
“Just in Washington and Hancock counties alone, honestly we need hundreds of beds, and it’s not there yet,” Worrell said. “Hopefully this will fill a little bit of that need.”