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Detox would provide addicts with ‘crucial’ treatment

January 29, 2016
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - For local residents addicted to heroin and other opioids, a proposed new detox center in Schuyler Falls could be a first step in recovery.

Plattsburgh's Champlain Valley Family Center is working with the state's Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to provide the clinic, mostly for outpatients but with the ability to stay there for up to a week.

The center would be 45 miles from the St. Joseph's Treatment and Recovery Centers in Saranac Lake, less than half the distance from current locations in Albany where St. Joseph's personnel like chief executive Bob Ross currently send addicts for immediate detox.

Ross said Wednesday, Jan. 27 that the Schuyler Falls center is a "crucial" need for the Tri-Lakes region. Located at the vacant former Adirondack Residential Center building for youth, it would provide detox service at a lower cost than hospitals, he added.

St. Joseph's provides inpatient alcohol and drug treatment for 65 residents at its Glenwood Road campus in Saranac Lake, plus some outpatient services at its offices on Woodruff Street, but it does not offer the immediate detox service planned in Schuyler Falls.

"Not having the detox locally is a very severe limitation," Ross said. "I think the addition of that program to this community is a big plus and one St. Joseph's and others support."

Ross said in the past two years, St. Joseph's has seen a 50 percent increase in patients admitted for heroin or opiod addiction, particularly in young people.

The Schuyler Falls facility would have approximately eight respite beds for patients to stay for periods of three to seven days, and patients could also transfer to St. Joseph's or other facilities in the North Country.

"There is a window of opportunity, a delay in access is critical and can lead to people missing access to those services," Ross said.

"Our goal is to provide those services much closer to home, when the individual is asking for help," said Connie Wille, executive director of the CVFC.

A year ago the CVFC submitted an application to the Adirondack Health Institute in Glens Falls to secure Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment funding for the site at the vacant building in Schuyler Falls. The project has received support from state Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, R-Peru, and state Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, but the CVFC is still waiting to hear back on capital funding for the project. OASAS would need to commission the center with an operating certificate.

Duprey said funding is complicated because the property and building are owned by different agencies, and three state agencies are involved.

Insurance and Medicaid would be accepted at the facility, and for people who don't have insurance, Wille said the center would work to assist them in obtaining insurance. Those referred for withdrawal would not be denied treatment, with billing at a later date based on individual cases.

"I think there are going to be people who don't have resources and need the help, and we are going to need to make that happen," Duprey said. "What is saved in rehab can save someone thousands of dollars over their lifetime rather than in and out of detox."

Speaking at a press conference Monday in Albany addressing the heroin epidemic affecting the state, Duprey and the Assembly Minority Conference Task Force on Heroin Addiction released "The Heroin Epidemic: A Report on Heroin Use, Treatment, Prevention & Education Efforts in New York." During her speech, she mentioned the planned CVFC center in Schuyler Falls, calling it a model for the state.

"Detox is a major issue, and St. Joseph's does not offer detox," Duprey said at the press conference. "Any patient going there must have been drug free for seven days prior to being admitted to St. Joseph's."

The Schuyler Falls center may be a place for an addict to put in those seven days.

"To be able to transfer over to St. Joseph's is huge," Duprey added in a phone interview Monday night. "That's where the transition is going to be incredibly important for the North Country."



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