News Article Details

Cohasset couple donates $10M for substance abuse, mental health treatment

The Patriot Ledger - 2/28/2019

Feb. 28-- Feb. 28--WEYMOUTH -- Eilene Davidson Grayken said she had it all going for her on paper, but on the inside she was struggling. At her lowest point, Davidson Grayken said she drank two liters of vodka a day and took pills, and she couldn't stop.

"I'm somebody who was ashamed, self-loathing, full of self hatred and extremely unwell. I would not be standing here today without medical help," Davidson Grayken said Thursday at South Shore Hospital. "Were it not for the people who saw me and saw past my illness, I would be dead."

Now in recovery, Davidson Grayken and her husband, John Grayken, a Cohasset native, on Thursday announced a $10 million donation for South Shore Health System to launch the Grayken Center for Treatment -- a rapid-care unit on the existing Weymouth campus where those suffering from substance abuse and mental health problems can begin treatment. The couple in 2017 made a $25 million donation to Boston Medical Center for the same purpose.

"I'm making a very bold promise here, but I'm promising that anybody with substance use disorder who walks through the doors at South Shore Hospital will be treated with respect, confidentiality and the best medical treatment for their addiction. You have my word that I will not rest in my efforts to help," Davidson Grayken told the room packed with first responders, clinicians and officials. "Recovery is a long process. It doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't happen in a hospital. You need community partners, and you need people to have their hand held through this."

Grayken, founder and chairman of the Lone Star Funds investment firm, and Davidson Grayken, an international theater producer, are among the country's most generous philanthropists. The $10 million donation marks the largest private gift in the health system's 97-year history.

Gene Green, South Shore Health System's president and CEO, said his work as a primary care physician demonstrates the tremendous need for better mental health care. He said doctors are often on a "hamster wheel," and the 15 minutes allotted for a patient are often spent addressing other chronic conditions, like diabetes or hypertension,and discussions about mental health are put on the back burner.

"We're sitting there going, 'I know I should ask this question, but I don't know what to do if I get the answer.' So that's the big driver of why we need to do this," Green said Thursday.

He said whether it's through a visit to a primary care doctor, a trip to the emergency room or a 911 call, those who "open the community door" for help need a pathway to treatment.

"It's going to take all of us to work together and collaborative to make that community door happen for the entire South Shore region," Green said.

Green said that will include working with Aspire Health Alliance, formerly South Shore Mental Health, and other existing resources, and partnering with Boston Medical Center'sGrayken Center for Addiction to learn from its models of care.

Doctor Jason Tracy, chief of emergency services, said words can't convey the impact the treatment center will have on the community. In 2018 alone, Tracy said the South Shore Hospital emergency room saw 7,000 visits for someone suffering a behavioral health crisis. The emergency room treated more than 450 opioid overdoses, and about 2,3000 visits for an alcohol-related condition.

Tracy called the numbers "staggering," and said that data only reflects the visits from people who come into the emergency room specifically for substance use or behavioral health, not those who visit for other reasons, but also have an underlying substance use disorder issue.

"Our patients are looking to us for care, and our clinicians are in desperate need of a comprehensive program just like we use for any other traditional medical condition we have, like a stroke patient, a trauma patient, a cardiac patient," Tracy said. "Our providers looking at the face of someone in crisis will now be able to look to a program to be able to hand off and get that definitive treatment."

The Graykens' gift is part of the largest campaign in the health system's history. The effort, called "Mission Critical: The Campaign for Our 2nd Century," aims to raise $70 million by the year 2022, which will mark South Shore Hospital's 100th anniversary.

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(c)2019 The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.

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