Po’keepsie group plans detox center for Greenport

HUDSON–A new detoxification facility, the move of several clients from inpatient to outpatient care, a need for more social workers, and the difficulty in counting overdoses received attention at the Columbia County Community Service Board meeting late last month.

People USA, a non-profit organization in Poughkeepsie, described on its website as serving “people living with mental health or substance abuse issues,” plans a 20-bed detoxification center on Merle Avenue in Greenport.

“A lot of their philosophy is hooking people up with peers,” said Beth Schuster, executive director of Twin County Recovery Services. “That’s a way to prevent people from relapsing.”

Michael Cole, county director of Human Services, said that a public hearing the previous day about the proposed center “was packed, and there was no objection. We have funding and site approval. I think we have to advocate aggressively for it. It is in our interest to fill the beds,” he said at the January 29 Service Board meeting

Claire Parde, executive director of the Healthcare Consortium, posed a series of questions: “Theoretically, the detoxification center will serve people as far away as Putnam. If they are released, will they stay here? What will be the effect of people from out of town using our facilities?

Calls to People USA for more details about the planned detoxification center were not returned before press time.

The board also discussed moving many patients with mental health and/or substance abuse issues from institutions to outpatient care, a policy that has led to a research project called Transitions of Care. Jennifer L. Wuerz, a coordinator for that project, and Rachel Kappel, an outreach and engagement specialist with it, spoke at the meeting.

With the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes in mental and behavioral health, the project looks at what happens when patient transition from inpatient to outpatient care, Ms. Wuerz and Ms. Kappel explained.

Specific items they hoped to track for this research include first time admissions and rapid re-admissions. They said this was more challenging than they anticipated. Each agency collects different information in different ways. In addition there are security concerns.

One goal is sharing information. “We want to find out the role of care coordinators. We don’t want to step on their toes,” said Ms. Kappel.

The Transitions of Care Project is an initiative of the Southern Hub Network, a collaborative of “regional cross-sector providers that offer services and supports across the care continuum including Columbia Memorial Hospital, Columbia County Mental Health, Greene County Mental Health, Twin County Recovery Services, Mental Health Association of Greene and Columbia County, and the Healthcare Consortium, according to printed information Ms. Wuerz and Ms. Kappel distributed. The two spokeswomen for the project report to Dr. Ronal Pope, a clinical administrator at Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Meanwhile, “We have a staffing shortage. We need a social worker and a clinical social worker. If you know someone, please call,” said Dan Almasi, director of Clinical Services.

On another matter, Mr. Cole noted that it is difficult in getting “trustable statistics” on overdoses. If a person dies in Albany, his death might be counted there, even if he lived and overdosed in Columbia County, said Kinderhook Supervisor Patsy Leader. Meanwhile, Danielle Hotaling, addiction recovery coordinator for Columbia and Greene counties said that even if an overdose “is not fatal, they should report it.”

Also at the meeting:

• Mr. Cole said that under the new, statewide bail reform, “our jail census has dropped by 50%”

• Supervisor Sarah Sterling (Hudson–1st Ward) said she had started a Facebook page called “Where do I Get Help in Columbia County?”

The next meeting of the Columbia County Community Services Board will take place Wednesday, February 26, at noon, at 325 Columbia Street in Hudson.

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