Who We Are
Turning Point Clinic was created because the City of Baltimore desperately needed more substance abuse treatment capacity. Before Turning Point, there was no methadone clinic in East Baltimore, except for a small program run by Johns Hopkins.
Branded as “The heroin capital of America” by the national media, Baltimore was reported as having an estimated 60,000 heroin addicts. It was high time, then, for someone to bring more help, hope and healing to the addicts, the Community, the Family and the Taxpayer.
Turning Point was opened in April of 2003, a grassroots effort initiated by Rev. Milton Emanuel Williams, Jr. and the parishioners of his New Life Evangelical Baptist Church with the vision that this treatment center would be different. Not only would it be big, to address the community’s needs, the Clinic would also provide new approaches and program practices that would encourage more addicts to enter treatment while, at the same time, building new pathways to recovery that would encourage patients to stay in treatment. Since then, Turning Point has grown to be the largest substance abuse clinic in the world, treating over 3000 patients every day, and more than 10,000 since its inception. As envisioned from its very beginning, Turning Point has lived up to its promise that, “The Way Back Starts Here” by successfully guiding an ever-increasing number of heroin addicts toward a drug free life.
As a front line leader in the battle against heroin addiction, Turning Point was the first methadone treatment center to address fully the fact that a lengthy admission process is cripplingly counter-productive to a clinic’s success. It is a hard fact of life for those individuals struggling in the grip of heroin addiction, and experiencing the living nightmare of withdrawal, that they won’t, and really can’t, wait for the relief treatment can offer. Turning Point pioneered a revolutionary way to solve that problem.
In 2011 Turning Point launched the first “Open Access” program in the treatment field, reducing the time it takes for a patient to gain admission to treatment from weeks to less than a day. By doing this, Turning Point was able to more than double our patient population in less than one year.
It has always been Tuning Point Clinic’s vision that we can and will do even more to bring hope and healing to those among us trapped in the evil grip of drug addiction. It is time, high time, to move forward in this heroin war. We have added a research component to track patient progress and results, while also helping in our unending quest to offer even more and better ways back to a drug free life. New and remodeled buildings will be soon be added to Turning Point’s growing health care campus project which will immediately increase the number of patients we can admit for treatment and counseling. But that is just the beginning of the Turning Point of Tomorrow. The future holds promise for our introduction of even more innovative programs and procedures designed to save both lives and tax dollars.
The Role of the Church
Without the support and assistance of the parishioners of New Life Evangelical Baptist Church, the “Way Back” that Turning Point Clinic provides would not be open to their neighbors in need of methadone treatment and counseling. It is the belief of New Life’s congregation that the Lord helps those who help themselves. And it is their daily prayer that churches of all denominations will follow their lead and open their church doors and hearts to individuals suffering from drug addiction and, yes, truly welcome them into the fold. They see Spiritual Counseling and Therapy, which are options at Turning Point Clinic, as a Godsend to those on the road to recovery from drug addiction.
Feeding the Multitudes
The members of Turning Point Clinic’s sponsoring congregation, New Life Evangelical Baptist Church, have long perceived that hunger can play a deadly role in the troubled lives of heroin addicts and their troubled families. It can contribute to an increase in crime in the community, and lead to the destruction of the family. In 1990, they opened “Hard Times Food Pantry, which is now the largest food pantry in Maryland. This community outreach service is available to all the needy in East Baltimore, handing out bags of groceries every five days a week. New Life volunteers also periodically offer free household cleaning supplies, new clothing, and even diapers and baby formula for the tiniest members of the community.
New Life’s Pastor, Reverend Williams, is truly grateful for the vision, support and involvement of the church’s parishioners. “I would like to say, ‘God bless them’,” he says. “But I know He already has.”
A Change for the Better
Due to the obvious need for change, Turning Point had to become a pioneer in substance abuse treatment. “Open Access,” which is our “just walk in” philosophy for the admittance of new patients, is one example. Treatment must be available “on demand,” which is to say when an addict is ready to take that first and critical leap toward recovery. Open Access means that if Turning Point is open, then we are open right then and there to accept all new patients on a walk-in basis, i.e. no appointments needed.
Three years ago, Turning Point challenged the State of Maryland to streamline the needlessly long and counterproductive new patient intake process. The State threatened to close Turning Point if we proceeded as planned. Effective January 1, 2015, those efforts paid off, with the elimination of what is called the “Addictions Severity Index,” shortening the intake process by perhaps 40 minutes. That’s a long time to a suffering addict who is trying his or her best to do the right thing!
We also were the first to offer new patient ‘incentives,” which are really nothing more than a small cash inducement sufficient to cover bus and/or taxi fares both ways, and lunch (since the admission process is still too long, requiring much of the day). These reimbursements are privately funded. This strategy has proven enormously useful. And it’s easy to see why: If a heroin addict had enough money to cover these costs, then he or she would likely use those funds to buy heroin instead of seeking treatment! A brilliant strategy?! Hardly. But a brilliantly effective one nonetheless, having resulted in Turning Point’s patient population tripling in size in three years.
Turning Point and New Life Evangelical Baptist Church are establishing a new non-profit food pantry, “New Life Food Pantry, Inc.” It will be privately funded and make possible a ten-fold increase in the amount of food and number of meals currently provided to the hungry of East Baltimore through the efforts of the Church’s existing food pantry. Our intent is that New Life Food Pantry will provide breakfast and lunch to Turning Point patients. You see, keeping patients in treatment means, ultimately, doing everything necessary to change their lifestyles. Hot meals for breakfast and lunch, with group and individual counseling, and faith-based programs all morning, will go a long way to accomplishing that very crucial objective.
Farther into the future, we intend to create a “health campus.” Yes, right here in East Baltimore. This will include an outpatient mental health clinic, and a primary and urgent care clinics. Stay tuned!