SCHUYLER FALLS — Excitement and even joy met the news Friday that a new drug and alcohol detox facility will be opened here.
"I can't begin to tell you how happy I am about this for the folks in our community," said Champlain Valley Family Center for Drug Treatment and Youth Services Inc. Executive Director Constance Wille, whose agency will run the Schuyler Falls facility.
"It has been so frustrating because we haven't been able to provide the service to people when they need it."
There is no such facility closer than Potsdam and Albany.
Wille has witnessed the catastrophic damage that heroin and other opioids have caused to North Country lives in recent years, and that epidemic is not waning, she said.
"(And) we are not seeing any decrease at all in problems related to alcohol dependence," she said. "We will be serving those folks as well."
The facility will be located at 516 Norrisville Road, on the campus of the former Adirondack Residential Center in Schuyler Falls.
Open around the clock, it will provide detox, stabilization/respite and outpatient substance-use-disorder services, according to a press release from the Governor's Office.
Wille, who wrote the original grant for the project, said services will include ambulatory detox "for those who can be safely served that way — people can drive in every day and go through (detox) on a real outpatient basis."
The site will also offer eight beds or so for those who need around-the-clock supervision and care, Wille said.
And a satellite clinic will allow onsite evaluation so patients can be immediately referred to local providers.
"We're going to be making those connections (for treatment) while we have them there," she said.
The long distance to detox facilities elsewhere isn't just an inconvenience, Wille said.
Those needing to get off heroin and other drugs go to detox centers in Albany or Potsdam — when a bed is available, she said — "and they walk away.
"What's scarier than that?"
Clinton, Essex and Franklin residents will be served by the facility.
'WILL SAVE LIVES'
The project is a collaborative effort of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Office of General Services.
Champlain Valley Family Center is certified by OASAS to provide the services.
“This center will expand treatment options in the North Country, helping those battling addiction and saving lives in the process,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“This is one more step towards building a stronger and healthier New York.”
But it's going to take some time to get rolling, Wille said.
The two buildings on the former youth rehabilitation center campus, which has sat unused for several years, need renovation, she said.
The stakeholders will come together with a design firm, along with the New York State Dormitory Authority, on March 8, Wille said, to start the transformation process.
The authority, she said, offers expertise for state projects such as this one.
By reopening the facility, the Governor's Office said, the state will be creating new jobs.
Wille didn't know for sure how many employees would be brought aboard.
"It's just such a wonderful feeling today to know this is actually going to happen," Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) told the Press-Republican on Friday.
"You talk to addicts who have gone through the recovery stages," she said. "They talk about the horrific pain ... getting those horrible, poisonous drugs out of their systems so they then can address living life without drugs."
Having a detox facility locally, she said, "gives hope to those struggling with addiction."
“Addiction is a disease that impacts our communities throughout the state," said OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez in a statement.
"This repurposed treatment facility will not only give North Country residents access to treatment, closer to where they live, but it will start them on the path toward recovery from addiction.”
Stephens Mundy, president and CEO of University of Vermont Health Network, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, has been eager to see this service offered in the area.
“I applaud the work Champlain Valley Family Center is doing," he told the Press-Republican. "This resource in Schulyer Falls will be a significant resource in the community’s fight against opioid addiction.”
BREAK THE CYCLE
State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) was also cheering the project's announcement, seeing a powerful weapon against a scourge that touches many lives.
“The deadly and destructive impact of heroin and opiate addiction has hit the North Country hard," she said in a statement.
"One of the challenges addicts and their families face in a rural setting is access to treatment. To break the cycle of dependency, we need local detox, intensive treatment and outpatient assistance.
"This treatment center will meet that need.
"The collaboration of OASAS, DEC and OGS, working with Champlain Valley Family Center, represents the very good work of which government is capable," Little continued.
"I commend CVFC Executive Director Connie Wille for her vision and dedication.”
Wille, in turn, expressed deep appreciation that New York state recognized and moved to meet the North Country's desperate need.
And she praised her "really committed Board of Directors here, supporting this every step of the way.
"Having all these partners on the same page — it's just been really rewarding."
Champlain Valley Family Center
Prevention contact: Constance Wille.
Outpatient treatment contact: Paul Lamora.
Address: 20 Ampersand Drive in Plattsburgh.
Conifer Park Inc.
Methadone treatment, outpatient services.
Contact: Michelle L. Collings.
Address: 80 Sharron Ave., Plattsburgh.
Clinton County Community Services Board, Clinton County Addiction Service
Services: Outpatient services.
Contact: Stacey Beebie.
Address: 16-18 Ampersand Drive, Plattsburgh; also 481 State Route 11, Champlain.
The Substance Abuse Prevention Team of Essex County
Contact: Douglas Terbeek.
Phone: 585-7424, Ext. 101.
Address: 173 Lord Howe St., Ticonderoga.
St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers
Contact: Beryl "Sue" Gregory, CASAC.
Locations: 50 Montcalm St., Ticonderoga; 1703 Front St., Keeseville; 7520 Court St., Elizabethtown.
Citizen Advocates Inc., North Star Chemical Dependency Services
Prevention, outpatient services
Contact: Beth A. Lawyer.
Phone: 483-8980, Ext. 2313.
Address: 209 Park St., Malone.
Additional outpatient services locations: 70 Edgewood Road, Saranac Lake; 114 Wawbeek Ave., Tupper Lake; 143 White Birch Road, Indian Lake; State Route 30 at Elm Lake Road, Speculator.
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe/Health Services
Prevention, outpatient services contact: Connie Thompson.
Phone: 358-3141, Ext. 160.
Inpatient treatment contact: Gidget Rousell.
Prevention, inpatient treatment: 25 Saint Regis Road, Hogansburg.
Outpatient clinic: 412 State Route 37, Akwesasne.
St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers
Outpatient services, inpatient treatment
Malone outpatient contact: Linda Boss
Address: 458 East Main St. in Malone
Saranac Lake outpatient contact: Ms. Amy Favro
Address: 91 Woodruff St., Saranac Lake; 386 River Road, Lake Placid.
Inpatient contact: Ms. Heather E. Rich, LMSW
Admission phone: 891-4135
Phone: 891-3801, Ext. 1210.
Address: 159 Glenwood Drive, Saranac Lake.