Comprehensive Addiction Medicine program goes full time at Memorial

June 14, 2024

Contact: Tim Kershner, / 603-356-5461 ext. 2198
or Carrie Burkett, / 603-356-5461 ext. 2264

Dr. Jennifer Smith and Angelic Macut standing outside in front a tree
Dr. Jennifer Smith (left) and Angelic (Angie) Macut, CMA, are part of the now full time Comprehensive Addiction Medicine program at Memorial Hospital. 

North Conway, NH – For a person with a substance use disorder, the hardest part can be saying aloud that they are in too deep and need help. One such person found herself in this very position and scheduled an appointment with Memorial Hospital’s primary care comprehensive addiction medicine program. She was welcomed to her appointment, not by judgement as she feared, but by a friendly and empathetic certified medical assistant named Angie. 

Angelic Macut (Angie), CMA with the program, sat down with the patient. “She was, actively using [drugs]. She wasn’t able to be honest with her family and was hiding her appointment from them.” The patient told Macut that she was nervous to tell her mother about her current use. They had always been close, but she was worried that revealing her substance use would change their relationship. Macut encouraged her to reach out. “I told her she was going to need a support person. It would make a huge difference.”

Following her initial intake, she met with Dr. Jennifer Smith, a dually board-certified physician in addiction and family medicine. Dr. Smith started her on medication to help with her substance use and recommended she come in every week.  

This patient is one of many who have visited Dr. Smith since she shifted her focus full time to addiction medicine in May. The program provides outpatient substance-use treatment in a safe and confidential environment designed to support recovery. The program encompasses all substance use disorders, including opioids and alcohol. Dr. Smith also provides primary care services to her patient panel.  

Dr. Smith first started providing addiction medicine services in Bridgton, Maine 15 years ago as part of her primary care office. When Addiction Medicine became its own specialty, she saw this as a chance to pursue her passion for this field of medicine. “Many of my patients have had negative interactions with the healthcare system in the past. One of the most rewarding parts of my practice is rebuilding that trust,” said Dr. Smith.

“We were seeing a rise in emergency department utilization for emergencies related to substance use disorder,” said Andrea Rathbone, Senior Director of Practice Operations at Memorial Hospital.  “Our providers were seeing more patients in need of support. Now we can help more patients, get them connected to community resources, and integrate primary care.”

Memorial’s Addiction Medicine program is based on the harm reduction model of care. “This means meeting people where they’re at on their path to recovery,” said Dr. Smith. Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use, to abstinence, aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with substance use. Harm reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs. 

“Patient care can look different depending on where the patient is in their recovery,” explained Dr. Smith. “If people are showing up and they’re engaged in any level of care, that’s a positive thing. Our goal is that, as we build rapport, when they become ready to change their course, we’ll be there to support them.”

When Dr. Smith was asked what the community could do to support those in recovery, she said “avoiding stigmatizing language and behaviors. The language we use impacts the way care is received. Terms such as ‘addict’ and ‘junkie’ can be stigmatizing and should be replaced with language such as ‘person who uses drugs.’ This acknowledges the person first, rather than defining them by their relationship to drugs.”

“You have to look at the human being,” said Macut. “Don’t forget, they could be your neighbor, your son, or a friend.” Macut explained that the harm reduction approach keeps in focus that “humans are good at improvement, not perfection. It gives people a place to be accepted.”

Those interested in seeking care from Memorial Hospital’s Primary Care Comprehensive Addiction Medicine program can be referred to the program by a primary care provider, a community support person, or self-refer by calling Mount Washington Valley Rural Health Primary Care at 603-356-5472. They can be at any point in their journey to recovery. 

As for the patient who was worried about sharing her substance use with her mother, she took Macut’s advice. “The patient was already doing what we suggested,” explained Macut. “She had reached out to the resources we gave her, and she started participating in Smart Recovery Meetings here at Memorial and online. When she came in the next week she was doing visibly better. She said that she was so grateful I had encouraged her to talk to her mom who was so supportive. And she has been in recovery ever since!”


About Memorial Hospital 
Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit 25-bed Critical Access Hospital located in North Conway, NH, and is a member of the MaineHealth family. Its hospital services include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, clinical laboratory, heart health & wellness programs, imaging services, cardiopulmonary care, family birthing center, oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services. Practices include primary care and family medicine, diabetes care, behavioral health, women's health, podiatry, orthopedics and physical therapy. Memorial Hospital is also home to The Merriman House nursing home, which provides senior care services in a comfortable, home-like setting. For more information,  or call 603-356-5461.