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Steve Burton, CEO Sheila Moran, Director of Development Who are we? First Choice Health Systems, Inc, established in 1995 as a statewide network of behavioral health providers, manages various state contracts

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Steve Burton, CEO

Sheila Moran, Director of Development

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Who are we?

  • First Choice Health Systems, Inc, established in 1995 as a statewide network of behavioral health providers, manages various state contracts

  • Answered RFP in December 1999 to design and implement a statewide gamblers help program

  • We have received the contract to provide services to problem gamblers for almost 10 years

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West Virginia Facts

  • YES Virginia, there is a WEST by God!

  • 75 % of our state is covered by forest

  • We are the most mountainous state east of the Mississippi

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West Virginia Facts

  • We have the 5th highest poverty rate in the country

  • If you define ‘rural’ by living outside in a place with less than 50K people, 94% of our population is considered rural

  • Our population is 1.8 million

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Transportation in WV

  • Subway? That’s a restaurant, right?

  • Very few people in WV’s rural counties have access to public transportation

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Gambling in WV

  • 1984-Lottery legalized (over 20 years after NH!)

  • 1994-Slot machines allowed at racetracks (about 12,000 now in operation)

  • 2001-9,000 video poker machines installed in WV bars and restaurants

  • 2007-Table games legalized at WV racetracks

  • All four WV racetracks are now full blown casinos

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Understanding Rural Gambling

  • Case Study: Logan County

    • 37,000 people

    • 24% of population below poverty line

    • 37 mini-casinos operating in the county, each with 5-10 slot machines

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Gambling Treatment Funds in WV

  • Program originally funded at 225K in 2000

  • As gambling expanded and our data demonstrated the need for more treatment, our funding increased

  • Program now funded at 1.6 mil=4th highest per capita gambling treatment funding in US

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What does all that mean ?

  • We faced many big challenges

    • Spreading the word about the help that is available….and getting people to call us

    • Remaining gaming neutral in a politically sensitive environment

    • Finding and training lots of counselors

    • Structuring an effective treatment program

    • Demonstrating to decision makers that our program was essential in the midst of budget cuts for other agencies

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Many State Gambling Treatment Programs:

  • Mail information or give caller name and phone number of a nearby counselor or give GA information

  • Have an estimated rate of callers who are actually seen face-to-face by trained professional of 5% to 10%.

  • Are not able to pay for treatment or advertising

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What About West Virginia?

  • First helpline in the nation to offer such aggressive, proactive interventions and track comprehensive data

  • High show-up rates

  • Asked to present at many local, state and national conference s

  • Viewed by many as model help-line program

  • Over 90 trained counselors

    • Currently 22 network counselors + our helpline staff have national certification

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WV Counselor Training

  • Counselors, social workers and psychologists

  • Minimum of 30 hours specialized training-most have much more

  • Quarterly Clinical Supervisions around the state

  • Advanced/Continuing Education

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24-hour Helpline1-800-GAMBLER

  • Telephone answered by trained clinician

    • Most are Masters level professionals with national gambling certification

  • Initial therapeutic intake session completed

  • Crisis intervention

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All Callers offered free two-hour consult

  • Includes loved ones!

  • Scheduled while on the line

  • Goal is within 30 miles of residence

  • Within 72 hours of call

  • Referred to other support services and information mailed

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During the Consult

  • Clinician does thorough diagnostic assessment

  • Develops treatment plan

  • Refers to other support services

  • Sends us all the assessment data

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  • We offer state funded treatment to any WV resident who cannot pay because:

    • They don’t have insurance

    • They have a large deductible

    • Our trained clinician is not in their “network”

  • Covers 20 session for gambler; 10 sessions for significant other

    • Competitive pay rates are essential

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Back in Our Office

  • Pre-appt courtesy call

  • Post-assessment follow-up

  • Treatment pre-certification

  • Treatment reimbursement for


  • 6-month follow-up

  • 1-year and 2-year outcomes

  • Compile data

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When our Help-line Rings

  • We race to the phone

  • Our HL clients won’t receive voice mail, busy signal, or answering service

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When We Answer Help-Line

  • Always control the conversation

  • Never answer questions passively

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions

  • “Sell” appointment

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Our Results

  • We get good grades from our clients!

  • How many organizations even ask for regular feedback?

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Our Results

  • High appointment acceptance rate (up to 80%)

  • High show up rate (up to 80%)

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Our Results

  • “Recovery” defined as not gambling or significantly decreased gambling

  • Up to 80% of clients report success at long term follow up

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  • We collect HUNDREDS of pieces of data

  • We do this without sounding like a telemarketer

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Why Is Data Important?

  • Use to evaluate:

  • New program services/treatment modes

  • Treatment techniques

  • Clinicians

  • Marketing efforts

  • Trends

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Why Data Matters-Tracking Trends

  • Geographic trends

  • Type of gambling trends

  • Demographic trends

  • Clinical trends

  • Rise and fall of call volume

  • Day and time of most call volume

  • Tracking repeat callers