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Spring 2018 News Brief

Stepping Up
for First Step
Welcome to Our New Digital News Brief!
This year, First Step of Sarasota
celebrates 50 years of service to
our community. We’ve recently
achieved some major milestones,
including the 200th patient to
successfully complete our sober
living program, and our Mothers
and Infants program’s delivery of its
436th alcohol- and drug-free baby.
We’re also expanding with major
community partnerships, progressive
new treatment programs, and school
outreach initiatives that have reduced
student suspension rates at Sarasota
High School. Clearly, we have a lot
to celebrate--and you can join in!
Celebrate with us by stepping up for
First Step during this years Giving
Dave personally invites you to learn
about our new initiatives and how
you can Step Up for First Step!
Special Feature:
Giving Challenge 2018
This Issue:
Page 2
y Major Renovations
for Pathways Florida
Treatment and
Recovery Center
Page 3
y First Step Confronts
the Opioid Overdose
y First Step Spotlight:
Dr. David Panting, M.D.
Page 4
y Introducing Our
Treatment (MAT)
Here’s How to Be the One
to Step Up for First Step
May 1 and 2 • Noon to noon
1. Go to
2. Search for “First Step of Sarasota
3. Click “Donate” and make your gift
4. Ask friends and family to do the same
5. Share on social media, text, and email
The 2018 Giving Challenge is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota
County with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation.
Jack Cox
Vice Chair
Dana Keane
Elizabeth LaBoone
Jay Miller
Board of Directors
In 1983, First Step purchased the
property of a 1950s hotel nestled in
North Sarasota to create the Pathways
Florida Treatment and Recovery Center.
As with all of our programs and facilities,
we made it our mission with Pathways
Florida to offer in-depth, individualized
addiction recovery plans tailor-made for
our clients.
In addition to our renowned residential
treatment programs that lend their name
to the Pathways Florida Treatment and
Recovery Center, we’ve broadened
the treatment options available to
clients through additional treatment
modalities. Because commercial health
insurance companies sometimes have
strict guidelines about the types of
treatment and lengths of stay they will
cover, services such as our Intensive
Outpatient Programs (IOPs) and Partial
Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) open
up greater access to the necessary care
and treatment for addiction. If needed,
Medication-Assisted Treatment is also
available within our residential services.
PHPs benet individuals who have
completed their inpatient or residential
treatment and can benet from a step-
down support system. The typical
PHP offers services six hours a day,
ve days a week. PHP clients receive
weekly individual counseling and family
counseling as needed, and psychiatric
services are available if clinically
indicated. Our PHP also offers room
and board for individuals who do not
yet have a safe living environment in the
IOPs are benecial for clients who have
successfully completed an inpatient
program or PHP. They are also helpful for
clients who relapse while in a traditional
outpatient program. Typical IOPs meet
three hours a day, three days a week, and
typically last for 10 to 12 weeks. One
major benet of IOPs is that they allow
for individuals to continue with daily
activities, including employment, while
receiving necessary substance abuse
As a full-service facility, Pathways
Florida ensures each client is afforded the
best opportunity to receive the care he or
she needs. Our highest goal is to provide a
continuum of services so our clients have
an established support that travels with
them on their recovery journey.
Furthermore, with a brand new website
and signicant upgrades to our campus,
Pathways Florida Treatment and
Recovery Center is becoming an even
more beautiful, comfortable, and secure
place to seek assistance and support
in recovery. Thanks to the following
renovations, Pathways Florida is ready
to welcome each individual into our
treatment community and inspire them
to thrive.
First Step is deeply grateful to all our
funding partners for making these
improvements possible!
Major Renovations - Physical and
Digital - for Pathways Florida
Treatment and Recovery Center
y Campus beautication: fresh exterior
paint, new doors, and new benches
- Provided by The Harry Sudako
y Brand new linens and bedding - Provided
by the Junior League of Sarasota
y New entrance and electronic security
gate - Provided by Bank of America,
Virginia White Clark Fund
y Website redesign: Visit the upgraded
web home of Pathways Florida at
Denis Baker
Eric Hoonhout
Wade McVay
Dr. Kevin O’Neil
Deputy Chief Patrick Robinson
Brena Slater
Bill Spitler
Ron Turner
Pepper Wakeland
Dr. John Wesley Walker, Jr.
Click here to view the Pathways Florida brochure.
First Step Confronts the Opioid Overdose Crisis
Local Healthcare Leaders Partner in Substance Overdose Services (SOS)
As opioid use continues to rise in
Sarasota County, emergency medical
services and law enforcement respond
regularly to overdose calls. Individuals
who have overdosed receive naloxone,
a medication that reverses the drugs’
effects, and are then transported to the
hospital emergency department. Given
an emergency room’s high patient
volume, need for swift bed turnover, and
focus on medical trauma, First Step is
stepping in to offer specialized care for
overdose survivors with our Substance
Overdose Services (SOS) Teams.
First Step has launched this initiative
in partnership with the Gulf Coast
Community Foundation, the Sarasota
Memorial Hospital Foundation, Sarasota
County Health and Human Services,
and Central Florida Behavioral Health
Network. Our goal is to decrease
the number of repeat overdoses and
other risky substance abuse behaviors
of individuals following an opiate
overdose. SOS Teams accomplish this
goal by immediately providing treatment
recommendations and the option of
Medication-Assisted Treatment for their
chronic disease: addiction.
Overdose survivors encounter First
Step SOS Teams through admission
to our Addictions Receiving Facility
or the Sarasota Memorial Hospital
emergency room, where stabilization,
assessment, and physician-directed
medical detox are provided. Made up
of a Care Coordinator and a Recovery
Peer Specialist, an SOS Team engages
the survivor in addiction treatment and
support services, developing a solid,
effective recovery plan that addresses
and eliminates internal or external
barriers to accessing and maintaining
these services. Each recovery plan
includes 120 days of intensive follow-up
to monitor, support, and promote each
individual’s recovery process, followed
by 120 days of transition follow-up.
The SOS Team ensures continuity
of care through communication and
information-sharing with our SOS
partners. The team also addresses
any medical needs through linkage to
appropriate medical services, and helps
participants’ support network of family
and friends access recovery services as
With the stabilization, assessment, and
treatment support from SOS Teams,
First Step will help survivors of
opiate drug overdoses end destructive
substance abuse behaviors and prevent
future relapse. An SOS Team’s efforts
ensure that someone who has overdosed
not only survives, but thereafter is able
to thrive.
First Step’s treatment programs are
built upon the strongest, evidence-
based treatment practices and
protocols, and delivered by licensed
and experienced clinical professionals.
We’re very proud of the caliber of
psychiatric care we’re able to offer
our clients, and a great deal of credit
for this ability goes to our Medical
Director, Dr. David Panting.
Dr. Panting has been a consultant for
First Step since 2000, and became the
Medical Director in 2006 prior to the
opening of the Addictions Receiving
Facility. In 1996, he completed
his training in Psychiatry at the
Allegheny Neuropsychiatric Institute
in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he
was Chief Resident during his senior
year. Dr. Panting is a Board-Certied
member of the American Board of
Neurology and Psychiatry, as well as
the American Society of Addiction
Medicine. He currently is on staff at
Blake Medical Center and maintains a
private practice in Bradenton, Florida.
Under Dr. Panting’s leadership, First
Step has partnered with Centerstone,
of Manatee County, to create a new
medical residency rotation at First
Step. The rst resident in the program
is Dr. Di Xun, a fourth-year resident
in General Psychiatry. Dr. Xun will
complete a four-month rotation
under the tutelage of Dr. Panting.
His role will be to assist in managing
our Seasons program clients, who
are diagnosed with a co-occurring
disorder consisting of both mental
and substance abuse disorders. Dr.
Xun’s residency will primarily focus
in the areas of assessments and
First Step is grateful to Dr. Panting as
the driving force that has made this
program a reality. We look forward to
growing this program with additional
residents, and developing resident
rotations at First Step facilities.
First Step Spotlight:
Dr. David Panting, M.D., Spearheads New
Residency Rotation
First Step of Sarasota, 4579 Northgate Court Sarasota, FL 34234 941-366-5333 Toll Free 800-266-6866
First Step of Sarasota, Inc. is a CARF Accredited, licensed, comprehensive, not-for-prot alcohol and drug treatment
and rehabilitation center.
First Step provides its services without regard to race, color, disability, national origin, race, religion or sex.
Treatment programs and materials are sponsored by First Step of Sarasota Inc.; the Florida Department of
Children and Families; Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto counties; and the United Way of Sarasota County.
First Step’s Outpatient Services has
implemented a new Medication-Assisted
Treatment (MAT) Clinic dedicated to
helping people recover from addiction
to opioids. MAT treats opioid addiction
by combining behavioral therapy
with prescription medication such as
Suboxone®, a once-daily sublingual®
medication, and Vivitrol®, a monthly
injection. This treatment regimen allows
people to take their medication in the
privacy of their own home and on a
schedule that works for them.
Most importantly, the treatment allows
people to stop prescription or street
opioids while avoiding withdrawal
symptoms and cravings. By blocking
the effects of illicit opioids, patients
regain a healthy physiology and become
equipped for psychosocial rehabilitation
into a drug-free lifestyle. MAT is
provided in conjunction with a full
array of outpatient services, and as with
all of First Step’s addiction recovery
programs, treatment is collaborative and
We are very
pleased to
have Dr.
Vien Dinh
join First Step’s professional team as the
MAT Clinic’s medical doctor. A board-
certied psychiatrist, Dr. Dinh brings
eight years of experience in the treatment
of substance abuse and dependence
to our MAT Clinic. He specializes in
striking a balance between medication
and therapy to help his patients nd a
successful, sustainable path to recovery.
With Dr. Dinh at the helm of this
progressive program, First Step looks
forward to restoring more patients’
health, opportunities, and dreams for a
successful future.
First Step Walks the Leading Edge in Addiction Treatment
Introducing Our Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Clinic
On February 27, First Step hosted its
15th annual Caring Hearts luncheon in
the beautiful banquet hall of Michael’s on
East in Sarasota. We were overwhelmed with
gratitude to present a sold-out event for the rst
time in Caring Hearts history! Here are some of the
highlights from this record-setting benet for First
y Net proceeds from the luncheon exceeded $50,000!
y We celebrated our Mothers and Infants program’s 100%
success rate, a return on investment exceeding 3,000%,
and more than 400 babies born drug- and alcohol- free.
y For her 18 years of service to the program, we honored
Nancy Page, First Step’s Vice President of clinical
practices, as our Caring Heart of the year.
We look forward to bringing you more information soon
about the 2019 event.
More exciting developments for First Step
are forthcoming in our summer issue! You
won’t want to miss out on how...
y First Step is empowering academic
achievement through our Student
Assistance Program at Sarasota High
y We’re putting a $500,000 grant from
Manatee County to work in a peer
coaching services pilot program for
opioid addiction recovery.
This news and more coming to you in July!
Our Next Issue:
A Record Outpouring of Caring Hearts
First Step is pleased to partner with VerbGarden Inc. and Pop! Designs in the production and design of this digital news brief.
We send our sincere
thanks to those
who attended and
sponsored the 2018
Caring Hearts event!