Agreement on need, but not location, for methadone/suboxone clinic
Walk-in clinic would be located in central business district: Port Jervis Mayor prefers location across from hospital


Cornerstone Family Healthcare's location in Newburgh, N.Y. (cornerstonefamilyhealthcare.org)

By Anya Tikka
PORT JERVIS — A methadone/suboxone walk-in clinic is in the plans for Port Jervis that will serve addicts bused in from the surrounding area, including Pike County, Port Jervis Mayor Kelly Decker said.
Cornerstone Family Medical Group, which already operates a similar facility in Newburgh, N.Y., wants to open the clinic in the Hunt Building at the bottom of Pike Street in the central business district, close to the train station.
Decker agrees with the general consensus that treatment centers are sorely needed amid the burgeoning opioid crisis, which has afflicted his city and many others nationwide. But Decker said he is concerned about the proposed location, saying it could harm the recent renaissance in the business district. He also questions the effectiveness of the treatment, saying it just replaces one drug — heroin and other opioids — with another.
Beating opioid addiction is notoriously difficult, but many experts consider methadone and suboxone the best hope in treating people with addiction. The National Institutes of Health found that extended suboxone treatment substantially improved outcomes for opioid-addicted young adults, and that it was preferable to detox and standard counseling alone. The NIH did say that the results of its studies have been inconsistent.
“We are even more worried by the volume of numbers they would want to serve if they came here," Decker said. "They currently serve 50 from the 12771 zip code but feel they would be able to serve 200 to 250 if they opened here," he said. The clinic would tap other markets such as Pike County, Pa., Sussex County, N.J., Sullivan County, N.Y., or other parts of Orange County, he said.
“Many residents seem fine to take care of our own, but to bring in others is detrimental to our continued renaissance, both commercially and residential, as well as the method of treatment exchanging one opioid for another does solve or cure the issue," Decker said. "It’s really big money making more money. I say this now and said it to them in April, this is our city, not theirs and if they want to work with us, we will work with them.”
Disagreement on medical buildingCornerstone's chief operating officer, Dr. David Jolly, told the Courier that Cornerstone explored a few other sites in the city, including the Roberta Glinton Medical Arts Building across from Bon Secours Hospital.
"Unfortunately, this building presents some challenges that we have tried to address but those challenges complicate the prospect of locating a Medically Assisted Treatment Center at that location," he said. "Cornerstone will continue to listen to the community, and we would like to thank the many messages we have received that identify the opioid epidemic as an emergency and the importance of treatment as a means of addressing this crisis.”
Things came to a head when the city’s building official, Dave Rivera, discovered that Cornerstone in the last few weeks hired an architect, Corey Layton of the Binghamton, N.Y., fire L2studio.
Jolly stated, “They discussed the location at the hospital with Westchester and Bon Secours but were told that every bit of square footage was going to be utilized by the Medical Village.”
Decker disputes this. He said he reached out to the owner of the Roberta Glinton building, who said no one had contacted him about leasing of space at that building, and that more than 7,000 square feet were available.
Decker has appealed to Port Jervis residents to express their opinions in town and zoning meetings.
According to Decker, County Legislator Tom Faggione now also agrees the clinic should not be put in the Hunt Building.
Jolly said Cornerstone is "firmly committed to working with City of Port Jervis officials and residents to ensure that the program we develop does not have a negative impact on city residents.
"Safety is always our utmost concern, and we will work hard to ensure that no resident’s quality of life is diminished as a result of our planned program. We are committed to an open, transparent process in the development of the treatment program and we sincerely hope that our organization’s efforts to explore options will not result in the potential loss of essential treatment for those in need."
Online:National Institutes of Health: “Extended suboxone treatment substantially improves outcomes for opioid-addicted young adults”: http://bit.ly/2tFjJvu