ITHACA, N.Y. — The Alcohol & Drug Council of Tompkins County has started the week with a major announcement: it is phasing in a 40-bed medically supervised detox and stabilization unit in Lansing and will begin by opening an open access treatment and referral facility this weekend.
The Alcohol & Drug Council has secured a 19,420-square-foot facility at 2353 N. Triphammer Rd. in the Village of Lansing. Finding a place to put the treatment center and secure funding has been in the works for over two years, Emily Parker, director of development at the Alcohol & Drug Council said, and will help fill a critical gap in local addiction treatment.
The facility will have a phased opening. Starting with a soft opening this weekend, Feb. 16 and 17, the “open access” portion of the facility will open its doors. There will be no beds available just yet, but they do have comfortable reclining chairs for stays less than 24 hours and medication-assisted treatment will be available right away, Parker said. In about six months, once they receive more funding (which she said they hope will happen by summer), they will add 10 beds. And after about 18 months and more renovation, they hope to have all 40 beds in place for the medically supervised withdrawal and stabilization residential program.
“As we expand our services, we will be adding additional medical and clinical professionals to our staff to offer high-quality, compassionate care for our community,” Angela Sullivan, executive director of the Alcohol & Drug Council said in a news release.
Dr. John-Paul Mead, an Ithaca native and local physician, will serve as medical director of the program.
The open access portion of the program is being supported by $450,000 in funding from the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the award nearly a year ago, he said, “Substance abuse knows no age, knows no income and knows no zip code in New York or across the nation. … With these around-the-clock Open Access Centers, we can provide critical services night and day to New Yorkers when they need it most.”
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In March, Sen. Chuck Schumer visited the Alcohol & Drug Council in Ithaca, where he spoke about the urgent need for treatment and urged the government to disburse billions in funding to help fight the opioid crisis.
While the open access center is a start, the residential detox and stabilization part of the facility will open as more funding is secured, a news release said. The open access center will offer valuable resources for people struggling with addiction and in crisis, but it is not a residential facility yet.
Parker said the new open access facility will give people struggling with addiction a place to go and find services. She said they are collaborating with several partner agencies, such as the Advocacy Center and the Southern Tier AIDS Program. Eventually, the space will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Right now, many people struggling with addiction wind up in the emergency room because there is no place for them to go, Parker said.
Medication-assisted treatment will be offered through the open access center, including suboxone and Narcan. People will be able to walk in and get an assessment, and either get treatment there or be referred. By collaborating with several agencies, they will also be able to help people access other needed services, such as housing, mental health, or advocacy services.
The bottom line, Parker said, “is meeting people where they are and providing the kind of help they need.”
As an example, she said if a woman came in struggling with addiction and was also experiencing domestic violence, at the open access center, they can help with connect her with treatment services and also contact the Advocacy Center, who will come meet her in a private space to figure out how to best support her. “We are trying to make (this space) as healthy and healing as can be and trying to work with our partners to bring services to them in a way that’s new and creative and effective,” Parker said.
In the past two years, Parker said they have had a lot of conversations with a lot of people to make sure they open a facility that best meets the needs of the community and truly helps people struggling with addiction have a long-term, sustainable recovery.
Frank Kruppa, mental health commissioner for Tompkins County, has been a strong advocate for the project and said in a statement, “There is no higher priority public health project in Tompkins County than adding these Open Access Medically Supervised Withdrawal services to address a gap in locally available care for people struggling with substance use disorders.”
The Alcohol & Drug Council has looked at many spaces in the past couple of years, Parker said, but they ultimately went with the location on North Triphammer Road in Lansing because it did not need a lot of renovation and is easily accessible by the bus (serviced by TCAT Routes 30 or 13). It also has off-street parking available.
According to a news release, the Alcohol & Drug Council was assisted by David Huckle of Pyramid Brokerage Company, who brokered the lease; Kelly White of Illume Projects, who is the project manager; and Seth Hiland of Harris Beach, PLLC, who is legal counsel. The landlord, Blinders Property Company, was represented by Connor Colbert of Greenstate Properties.
“We’re so grateful to have been able to work with the Colberts to lease this beautiful property that will offer a very welcoming, healing point of entry for people to begin their recovery journeys,” Sullivan said in a statement. “They truly appreciate the importance and urgency of our work, and have been very supportive partners.”
The Alcohol & Drug Council clinic at 201 E. Green St. will remain open daytime hours Monday through Friday. The open access center at 2353 N. Triphammer Rd. in the Village of Lansing will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Featured image: The Alcohol & Drug Council’s new open access facility on North Triphammer Road in Lansing. (Provided Photo)