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After Tyler Skaggs’ Death, MLB Can’t Afford to Balk at Treating Players’ Addictions

Just over three months ago,  Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in a Texas hotel room. Tyler Skaggs’ autopsy revealed that he died from aspiration of gastric contents and opiates, including fentanyl. 

Eric Kay, the Director of Communications for the Angels, claims he supplied Skaggs with the drugs and brought Skaggs’ drug use to the attention of other Angels front-office employees. The organization disputes the claim. Kay also claims that more players on Angels’ roster use opioids, although he did not name them publicly. 

Given the extent of the opioid crisis impacting all walks of life in the United States, assuming MLB players are somehow immune to this disease, or that Skaggs’ drug use is entirely isolated is foolish. In a column for NBC Sports, Craig Calcaterra compares drug use to the revelations in the 1990s that many famous athletes used steroids. 

He writes, “It seems logical that it would extend beyond the Angels, at least. From gambling and throwing games in the early days of the game to alcohol addiction during its alleged ‘Golden Age’ to cocaine in the 1970s and 80s and on to PEDs in the 90s and early 2000s, vice and/or addiction in Major League Baseball always — always — extends to more than one club.” 

Though the news broke early this week, Major League Baseball, aside from providing statements to assert unawareness of Skaggs or any other players’ drug use, has mostly swept the issue under the rug. The Angels organization has similarly released statements claiming unawareness. When the autopsy report was initially released, Skaggs’ family said they were shocked to learn that their son had been using drugs and hoped to clarify how Skaggs came into possession of narcotics, including who supplied them. 

An opportunity for drug addiction education 

The news comes in the middle of the league’s postseason, one of the heaviest revenue sources during the entire season. Major League Baseball’s website and its news section are filled with game highlights and offseason rumor mill banter, with no mention of the developing story or the truth about Tyler Skaggs. It’s not even buried elsewhere on the site, it is non-existent. While the drug overdose death of a player who received substances from a front office employee is not good PR, it is also unwise for the MLB to not be taking immediate action.  

Imagine, if now, during the playoffs, when more eyes than ever are on MLB, the league announced that it will fund efforts for drug addiction education for little-league programs throughout the country. Imagine if they tried to reach those with substance use disorder, not only professional athletes but fans, encouraging them to seek drug addiction treatment programs or behavioral therapies. It could use this tragedy as an opportunity to educate the public about fentanyl overdose signs and how to administer Narcan if you suspect someone has overdosed. 

Instead of pretending like the problem is not occurring and adding stricter and more punitive drug screenings, MLB could show compassion. It could release a statement recognizing that the entire country is amid an opioid epidemic. Although the league is made of the most talented baseball players on the planet, they are only humans. 

“Although [alleviating the opioid problem among players] involves making a point to name those other five Angels players Kay mentioned to the DEA, or if it involves casting them or other addicted players around the league as villains or poster children, it’ll be the wrong move,” Calcaterra said. “Wrong in an absolute sense in that it would work to blame addicts in ways that, I would hope, we’re all smarter about now than the way we used to be.” 

Athletes’ bodies are put through the wringer regularly. No wonder they turn to painkillers. If they don’t know what they are taking, the fentanyl effects can be deadly. Turning a blind eye to addiction will not alleviate the issue. If nothing is done, MLB and every other professional sports organization should not feign disbelief when this happens again. 

If you are struggling with addiction or alcoholism, there is help. At TruHealing Centers across the country, we offer the entire continuum of drug and alcohol treatment, from medically assisted detox to long-term group therapy aftercare. The easiest way to recover from addiction or alcoholism is to seek help. Call an admissions specialist today at 833-216-3079 to learn about our addiction treatment options and determine which one is right for you.   

TruHealing Centers, a division of Amatus Health, offers treatment for drug and alcohol addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders in facilities across the country. To learn more, visit amatusrecoverycenters.com

An opportunity for drug addiction education

The news comes in the middle of the league’s postseason, one of the heaviest revenue sources during the entire season. Major League Baseball’s website and its news section is filled with game highlights and offseason rumor mill banter, with no mention of the developing story or the truth about Tyler Skaggs. It’s not even buried elsewhere on the site, it is non-existent. While the drug overdose death of a player who received substances from a front office employee is not good PR, it is also unwise for the MLB to not be taking immediate action.   Imagine, if now, in the middle of the playoffs, when more eyes than ever are on MLB, the league announced that it will fund efforts for drug addiction education for little league programs throughout the country. Imagine if they tried to empower those with substance use disorder, not only professional athletes, but fans to seek drug addiction treatment programs or behavioral therapies. It could use this tragedy as an opportunity to educate the public about fentanyl overdose signs and how to administer Narcan if you suspect someone has overdosed.  Instead of pretending like the problem is not occurring, and adding stricter and more punitive drug screenings, MLB could show compassion. It could release a statement recognizing that the entire country is amid an opioid epidemic, and although the league is made of the most talented baseball players on the planet, they too are only humans.   “If the league’s stab at [alleviating the opioid problem among players] involves making a point to name those other five Angels players Kay mentioned to the DEA or if it involves casting them or other addicted players around the league as villains or poster children, it’ll be the wrong move,” Calcaterra said. “Wrong in an absolute sense in that it would work to blame addicts in ways that, I would hope, we’re all smarter about now than the way we used to be.”  Athletes’ bodies are put through the ringer on a regular basis. No wonder they turn to painkillers. Clearly, if they don’t know what they are taking, the fentanyl effects can be deadly. Turning a blind eye to addiction will not alleviate the issue, and if nothing is done, MLB and every other professional sports organizations should not feign disbelief when this happens again. 

Drug and Alcohol Detox and Treatments

If you are struggling with addiction or alcoholism, there is help. At TruHealing Centers across the country, we offer the full continuum of drug and alcohol treatment, from medical assisted detox to long-term group therapy aftercare.    The easiest way to recover from addiction or alcoholism is to seek help. Call an admissions specialist today at 833-216-3079 to learn about our addiction treatment options and determine which one is right for you.    TruHealing Centers, a division of Amatus Health, offers treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders in facilities across the country. To learn more visit amatusrecoverycenters.com

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As we continue to grow Amatus Health, the need to stay competitive and differentiate ourselves in unique ways is crucial. Building creative approaches to reach more people will take our company to new heights. This is why I am pleased to announce that we are officially rebranding. Our new national name, TruHealing Addiction & Mental Health Treatment, will eventually replace Amatus Recovery Centers.

You may be asking, “Why are we doing this?” This new name will give us national uniformity and help brand ourselves as a whole, which will be done in phases. You will still see our existing facility names co-branded with TruHealing for the time being.

Healing is what we do. Everyone who comes through our doors is in a moment of profound struggle in their lives. We support them through a life-changing process of healing and recovery, and they leave our facilities changed. This new name is a representation of that process. As mentioned above, it also allows us to have a national brand, which will make us a recognizable name in the addiction and mental health field.

In summation, these changes present an excellent opportunity for our organization to develop our mission, vision, and purpose. I look forward to prosperous growth as we head in a new and positive direction.

Sincerely,

Mark signature

Mark Gold
CEO
Amatus Health

Dr. Adam Cusner, PhD is an organizational psychologist by training and has brought his decade-plus experience to the healthcare field serving as the Executive Vice President of Operations for a 22-facility portfolio of skilled nursing facilities, assisted living and independent living centers across Ohio and Arizona, with an annual revenue over $250MM. While serving in this position, Dr. Cusner brought accelerated growth to these facilities, while increasing employee retention and workflow optimization. Dr. Cusner has a proven track record in the healthcare industry of providing successful leadership through his financial acumen, strategic planning, interpersonal skills, along with his ability to build strong, effective teams.

 

Dr. Cusner’s credentials include a Philosophy Doctorate in Organizational Psychology (PhD) from Cleveland State University, a Master of Arts in Psychology (MA) from Boston College with an emphasis on Psychology of Work, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (BS) from Boston University with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior in Business and is a board-certified Nursing Home Administrator (LNHA). He has published and presented research articles in the field of organizational psychology at national healthcare conferences. Dr. Cusner is completing a book on organizational psychology in the healthcare field, which is expected to be published late early summer 2022. He is also a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), has served as the APA’s Division 17 communications chair, is a member of the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychologists (SIOP), and was selected as a professional reviewer for national conference research presentations.

 

Dr. Cusner is an advocate for his employees and is drawn to the tie between culture and quality. His extensive strategic and operational skills have delivered a high degree of success across all department levels. Dr. Cusner facilitated the establishment of an in-house financial team to provide billing and collections, accounts payable, vendor management, along with financial reporting. This provided $1.5MM annualized savings. Further, he developed department efficiencies for: Medical Staff recruitment, service-line growth, quality and safety, corporate accountability of budgetary expectations balanced with direct reporting to investor groups.

 

Dr. Cusner coordinated the financial turnaround of a 300 bed CCRC (skilled nursing, assisted living and an independent living center) in Arizona, which has been epitomized as the most financially challenging state to manage CCRC facilities. Dr. Cusner also strengthened the business growth of the Ohio facilities by 12%. He was recognized by the Governor for demonstrating a “care-conscious approach” during COVID, when Dr. Cusner carefully consolidated facility residents to accommodate staff and improve clinical care. Dr. Cusner demonstrates a results-driven culture by delivering a high-quality level of care and employee engagement.

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Yaffa Atias is the Director of Special Projects at Amatus Health. Atias is a leadership professional with a decade of experience in healthcare. She holds a BA in interdisciplinary studies from Thomas Edison State College, and a Master’s in Healthcare Management with a concentration in project management from Stevenson University. She completed her graduate capstone at Mosaic Community Services, now an affiliate of Sheppard Pratt.

 

In her role at Amatus, Atias leads and manages interdisciplinary team projects, creates solutions for any operational gaps, and continually strives for quality improvement in all processes. Atias led the organization’s COVID-19 preparedness strategy, resulting in all facilities remaining operational, and in 600 employees being retained as staff without resigning out of fear. In her role so far, she implemented licensure for three new states.

 

Atias believes Amatus Health and TruHealing stand out because every employee, from corporate to center staff, has a real passion for helping people. Atias shares this passion, “My natural compass always tugged me to behavioral health. I’ve always been fascinated by the human psyche. I have also been intimately privy to those suffering from mental illness and substance use. I later understood that my experiences weren’t unique, and quickly realized how pressing the need really is to effectively prevent and address. Moreover, how life-changing proper intervention truly is.”

 

Atias was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up in Israel and Maryland.

Melissa McCarthy is the Vice President of Business Development at Amatus Health. With a decade of experience in the behavioral healthcare and addiction treatment industry, McCarthy is passionate about recovery. She has her finger on the pulse of marketing trends, with the end goal of helping businesses grow so they can serve more people in need.

 

McCarthy has worked at large enterprise recovery centers across the country spearheading business development teams. She has a wide range of experience, including transforming a third-party digital marketing and client acquisition services company into a full-continuum behavioral healthcare provider, managing several successful rebrands, and growing annual revenue fivefold.

 

As VP of Business Development, McCarthy leads a team of over 20 business development professionals nationwide. She manages client acquisition, coordinates in-service trainings with various referents and hospitals, and presents at conferences on addiction and mental health disorder treatment.

 

“Sadly, many individuals die waiting for access to life-saving behavioral healthcare services,” says McCarthy. “I am in relentless pursuit of better—better access, better care delivery and better outcomes. I consider it a privilege to work in an environment where miracles unfold daily.”

 

McCarthy lives in Maryland with her daughter.

Hometown: Saugus, MA

 

Passions & interests: The greatest passion of mine is being able to dig into the work with men in early recovery. There is nothing better than witnessing and being a part of the change. My journey in long-term recovery has taught me to value the little things in life that I am now able to do. I love to do anything that allows me to be present with my wife, family, and friends. My wife and I enjoy traveling, trying new foods, and taking long motorcycle rides with our friends. If I am not on the road working or with my wife, I am studying or playing softball.

 

The best part of my job is being able to show up for my team and clients; they all mean the world to me. I get to brainstorm and strategize with tons of different personalities. A lot of the team does not know, but I love learning from them. If I am not learning something about our industry or workplace, I am certainly learning how to effectively collaborate with different types of individuals.

 

Together, we can change the narrative and be a part of the solution to better treat those trapped in the problem.

Allison was born in Columbus, Ohio and was raised in South Florida. She graduated from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. After college, Allison started working at the largest talent agency in the world, William Morris Endeavor. There, she learned marketing from top leaders specializing in global PR and endorsement campaigns, in both the Latin and English markets.

 

Through strategic public relations and creative campaign concepts, Allison has secured more than 200 national broadcast and print media placements for behavioral healthcare organizations. She brings over 15 years of marketing and PR experience, with a strong background in leading communications strategy for addiction treatment and behavioral healthcare facilities. In her role as VP of Communications, she oversees branding, public relations, social media, marketing, events, and content creation.

 

In her spare time, she loves cooking, boating, yoga, and traveling. She and her husband Bryan reside in Boca Raton, Florida.

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Avi Burstein is VP of Clinical Services at Amatus Health. He manages all therapeutic programming at all facilities nationwide.

 

Avi is originally from New York, and graduated from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. He brings over 13 years of experience in the Behavioral Healthcare Industry, in both the public and private sectors. He is passionate about therapeutic communities and the fellowship they foster between patients. Through his work in LGBTQIA, urban, rural, and religiously observant populations, Avi recognizes that each patient is unique. Therefore, he strives to ensure clinical approaches, staffing, administration, and education meet the expectation of each community Amatus Health serves.

 

“Our work must also include ending the societal stigma surrounding such conditions by building safe and supportive networks that include clients’ families whenever possible,” Avi said. “By valuing change and owning imperfections, we can strive to be better providers and walk through the door of recovery with our clients.”

Avi Burstein is VP of Clinical Services at Amatus Health. He manages all therapeutic programming at all facilities nationwide.

 

Avi is originally from New York, and graduated from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. He brings over 13 years of experience in the Behavioral Healthcare Industry, in both the public and private sectors. He is passionate about therapeutic communities and the fellowship they foster between patients. Through his work in LGBTQIA, urban, rural, and religiously observant populations, Avi recognizes that each patient is unique. Therefore, he strives to ensure clinical approaches, staffing, administration, and education meet the expectation of each community Amatus Health serves.

 

“Our work must also include ending the societal stigma surrounding such conditions by building safe and supportive networks that include clients’ families whenever possible,” Avi said. “By valuing change and owning imperfections, we can strive to be better providers and walk through the door of recovery with our clients.”

Marty Markovits is the Chief Information Officer at TruHealing. He oversees the people, processes, and technologies of the whole organization to ensure the business is running smoothly.

 

Markovits grew up in Brooklyn, NY (which he calls “the greatest city on Earth”) and graduated with a degree in Clinical Psychology from Queens College.

 

Markovits is a veteran in Information Technology within the healthcare field. He ensures that IT processes are simple, cost-effective, and secure. His expertise spans the entire healthcare domain, from billing and claims, to clinical, to Human Resources. He says, “My passion is to provide fully automated and operationally meaningful Business Intelligence analytics, with absolute data integrity.”

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Hometown: Savannah, GA

 

Passions & Interests: I spend my time outside of work with my wife and children and am actively involved in various community needs and causes.

 

The best part of my job is knowing that we are creating a safe, healthy, nonjudgmental environment where people can come and better their lives. There is nothing more satisfying than helping others learn to live again and piece their lives back together as they become strong, productive members of society.

Together, we can bring families back together and promote healing and well-being.

MARK GOLD, CEO OF AMATUS HEALTH BIOGRAPHY

With over 16 years of proven executive leadership and driving company growth, Mark Gold’s momentum for success isn’t slowing down anytime soon. He serves as the CEO of Amatus Health, one of the fastest-growing, behavioral healthcare organizations in the country.

Possessing an excellent handling of clinical compliance and high performance standards, Mark established 14 CARF/JCT accredited addiction and mental health treatment centers and three ancillary healthcare businesses. Mark’s natural leadership skills as well as his creative thought process to generate new revenue strategies make him one of the most sought-after professionals in healthcare. Mark has a track record of leading organizations to outstanding ROI on overall portfolio performance. In addition, his expertise includes workforce planning, growth revenue, high client and investor satisfaction.

Aside from daily business oversight, Mark invests in his staff and helps build their professional development. His commitment to his colleagues and employees toward advancement and inclusiveness helps them achieve goals, builds connections, and provides a competitive advantage in the healthcare field.

Corporate and Charitable Leadership

Mark has been instrumental in building healthy communities and providing access and quality healthcare to underserved populations. His service in the community is a testament to his passion and selfless dedication to the cause of eradicating addictive disorders and stigma.

He launched several prevention and education programs and created the first-ever “Social Justice” scholarship fund of over $750,000.00 to help communities of color into inpatient drug treatment. Mark says, “The best part of my role is the knowledge that what we do impacts countless lives, with far-reaching effects,” he said. “It is incredibly rewarding to be part of a team that guides individuals onto a safe and accessible path to healing and recovery.”

He is a board member of Ahavas Chaim, a non-profit that offers at-risk teenagers crisis intervention and mental health support. He is also a committee member of the organizations Bonei Olam and Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic.

Personal and Educational Background

Mark studied Talmudic Law at Yeshiva’s Mir Yerushalayim in Israel. In Mark’s free time, he loves snowboarding, boating, and spending time with his wife and children.