VALATIE–Town Supervisor Pat Grattan announced at the May 7 Kinderhook Town Board meeting that Twin County Recovery Services has opened a Greener Pathways opioid addiction response mobile site in the Valatie Medical Arts (VMA) building in the Village of Valatie.
Mr. Grattan called it “a very positive thing for our community.” He pointed out that county Mental Health also has an office in the VMA called the Valatie Behavioral Health Center.
The Greener Pathways program is funded through a $1.8-million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The state’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) awarded the money to Twin County Recovery Services to help deal with the opioid addiction crisis in Columbia and Greene counties.
The grant is for “addressing unmet needs” in the county, Greener Pathways Director Lori Torgersen said in a phone interview after the Town Board meeting. She said that Greener Pathways is a mobile and community outreach program with an office in the VMA.
The new office opened in April after the funding made available to Columbia County. Twin County Recovery Services had received the bulk of funding last year for Greene County and opened a similar site in Cairo last fall. Ms. Torgersen said that Greene County has one of the highest rates in the state for deaths from opioid overdoses.
Information provided to The Columbia Paper by Greener Pathways Assistant Director Carl Quinn says the sites “are a community-based outreach program committed to building connections and pathways to strategies and solutions for opioid use disorder (OUD) and substance use disorder (SUD) crisis in Greene County and Columbia County.”
Ms. Torgersen stressed that the Valatie site is an office, not a clinic. The point of the program is to get out in the community, she said. In terms of helping people struggling with addiction, the program is “meeting them where they are” and that most of the work will be done “out in the field,” Ms. Torgersen said.
A big part of the program is transportation of people to services–which may mean a detox or treatment center. But Mr. Quinn said it may also mean getting them to other appointments they need to attend. Between the two sites, Mr. Quinn said Greener Pathways has four vehicles to transport people.
Ms. Torgersen said transportation is a major issue for some people struggling with addiction. There are no detox or treatment providers in either county so Greener Pathways drives to services outside the county for that kind of help.
Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann said at a Chatham Village Board meeting May 10 that Greener Pathways would be helping transport people who come to the Chatham Cares 4U (CC4U) program to treatment centers. Mr. Quinn said that the police chief had already referred a person to Greener Pathways, which then brought that person to a treatment facility.
CC4U is a program of the Chatham Police Department for people looking for help from addiction. They can come to the police station and officers will find them a treatment bed. For the last year and half Chief Volkmann or one of his officers would transport people to the treatment facilities. But now Greener Pathways will take on that part of the process which will reduce the Police Department’s mileage costs. The chief said that CC4U will still help find treatment centers for people who ask for help.
Besides transporting people to appointments and treatment, Ms. Trogensen said Greener Pathways has purchased a van that will be equipped for counseling and other services. She said the organization is interviewing for a mobile clinician to get to “remote sites throughout the county.” Greener Pathways hopes to have the van ready to go this summer.
Ms. Torgersen said the state has just approved using these mobile medical vans as well as Certified Recovery Peer Advocates (CRPA) for counseling, which means that these services can be covered by health insurance.
The Valatie site has a staff for peer-to-peer counseling. Mr. Quinn said the certified advocates can “help come up with recovery plans” for people who use the office. He said there are currently three staff members in Valatie.
He also said that the program is focused on county residents, a requirement of the grant money, but that the Valatie office would refer people from other counties to services in their areas. He said that besides Greene County, there are programs like this in Ulster and Sullivan counties.
Mr. Quinn said that people are finding the program through referrals from the county’s Mental Health Department, Catholic Charities and other programs. The office is open five days a week, Monday through Friday by appointment only.
The VMA office address is 1301 River Street. Call 518-291-4500 or 518-610-8703; the 24-hour hotline at 518-822-0090. The Greener Pathways website is greenerpathways.org.
Twin County Recovery Services Inc is a private, non-profit organization with offices and programs in Hudson and Catskill. Call 518-828-9300.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email