New York, November 29, 2017 – VIP Community Services and its nonprofit lenders, Vital Healthcare Capital (V-Cap) and Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), announced today a $2 million investment critical to expanding its ability to provide health and social services support to a community hard hit by the opioid crisis.

Located in the Bronx, amid a fast-growing opioid epidemic, VIP is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and a designated Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC) that provides comprehensive mental health, substance use, primary care, and supportive housing services to people experiencing addiction, mental health disorders, homelessness, and other health and social issues.  VIP serves 25,000 patients annually; 92 percent live in poverty and more than one in five are homeless – with greater than 60 percent experiencing severe psychological distress and depression, and drug and alcohol addiction.

The loan, led by V-Cap with a $1-million participation by NFF, will position VIP to expand and better integrate its mental health and substance use services to increase its response to the rise in opioid use and overdoses in the Bronx. In 2016, more Bronx residents died of drug overdoses than in any other New York City borough, and fatal overdoses are at their highest rates since at least 2000, when official data is available. Over the last 24 months, VIP’s opioid treatment program has grown in capacity to serve up to 1,500 patients and is expected to continue expanding.  

VIP was designated a CCBHC under a two-year pilot program sponsored by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and overseen by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and New York State Office of Mental Health.  Seven other states in the country are also piloting the CCBHC model.  The goal of the program is integrating a full spectrum of services for people who need mental health and substance use treatment.  

“Our clients often come to us with complex needs for treatment of addiction, mental illness, and chronic disease,” said Debbie Pantin, CEO of VIP Community Services. “We have to treat the whole person, particularly to help people facing addiction to recover and stay healthy. This investment helps us ensure that everyone we serve has all their physical, emotional and mental health needs addressed.”

V-Cap and NFF’s loan will help VIP pioneer this new model by supporting its expanded care spectrum. With the loan funds, VIP will recruit additional staff, including alcohol and substance use counselors, to accommodate a surging demand for services; expand its space for providing patient care, and implement new programs – all of which will assure a model that increases access and care continuity, improves outcomes and is cost-effective. The partnership will build a seamless suite of substance use treatment, mental health services, primary care, and housing.  

“We’re thrilled to provide the flexible financing VIP needs to deliver integrated substance use, mental health, and primary care, and to take leadership in confronting a health crisis in the Bronx,” said Steven Weingarten, CEO of Vital Healthcare Capital. “This loan delivers on V-Cap’s mission to meet the capital needs of organizations committed to quality care for our most vulnerable populations. This is an organization taking great strides to serve the comprehensive needs of people with complex health challenges, and we are a lender that fully appreciates how important it is to help them succeed.”

"VIP is making crucial contributions to positive outcomes in this unprecedented national health crisis, by understanding and addressing the complex, intertwined needs of the people it serves," said Norah McVeigh, Managing Director of Financing at Nonprofit Finance Fund. “NFF is proud to invest in and partner with organizations like VIP that are dedicated to advancing the social, as well as the medical, determinants of health.”

VIP prides itself in helping patients recover from addiction and maintain sobriety through a combination of medication management, therapeutic interventions, peer counseling, and linking patients to housing and community services.  These interventions help people reintegrate into their communities and live stable and productive lives.

Curtis Rhodes, a peer navigator at VIP Community Services, believes that VIP saved his life. “The addiction is just a small part of what people go through with substance use,” said Rhodes. “Once you get someone to feel better about themselves, they’re less likely to turn to drugs. They don’t want to mess up their lives.”

Through VIP’s substance use recovery program, Rhodes has been drug-free since 2009 and lives in VIP’s supportive housing. As a peer navigator, he provides emotional support to VIP’s clients in substance use treatment and conducts community outreach in Bronx neighborhoods most affected by the opioid crisis.