While working in a Pennsylvania substance use disorder treatment facility, Kapil Nayar, NCC, ACS, LPC, found himself thrust into an unimaginable situation—witnessing that same facility take advantage of the struggling addicts they were charged to counsel.
In his time there between 2015–2017, Nayar witnessed several financial scandals, including insurance fraud and kickback schemes. Worst of all, he says the needs of the patients were being entirely neglected: “The care of the patients was suffering greatly as a result of the scandals. These people came here for help and were being failed.”
Nayar and several of his colleagues spoke to local media about the illegal activities at the facility. He was called to give testimony before a grand jury that was considering charges against those behind the schemes, a process which he describes as “very traumatic.” Charges were brought, and eventually all of those responsible for the financial crimes and declining patient care were given prison sentences. “The fact that those people were held accountable for what they did made it all worth it,” Nayar says.
Nayar and his colleagues are still reeling from what they witnessed as well as the process of testifying before a grand jury and speaking to media about a case that attracted much attention. Nayar says that “the entire experience was new to all of us, and myself and several others have had to work through our own trauma.”
However, that hasn’t stopped Nayar from advocating for policies that will help ensure what he saw will never happen again as he notes that “more oversight is desperately needed.” Legislators in Pennsylvania have introduced a bill that would charge addiction facilities to be licensed and require inspections every two years, changes that Nayar says will drastically improve oversight. The legislators used Nayar’s grand jury testimony as a basis for the bill, hoping to use his experiences as a model of what they want to prevent.
Despite the fact that his pathway into advocacy was bumpy at best, Nayar remains motivated to do whatever he can to engage in advocacy as a way of improving treatment for patients. “I have to see this through,” says Nayar. “I am the type of person who needs to finish the fight.”
Nayar plans to advocate for this newly introduced legislation through whatever means possible, including a recent interview with a local newspaper in Allentown, Pennsylvania, The Morning Call. “This whole experience has really taught me that advocacy is a great way to help your patients,” he says.
For those who are just getting started in advocacy, he offers some advice: “It can be scary and overwhelming, but if there’s a fire burning in you for a specific issue or cause, don’t let it burn out. It’s important to have an ‘if I don’t do it, who will?’ mentality.”