Proposed Methadone Clinic in Port Jervis Prompts Mayor To Respond In A Facebook Post

January 12, 2018
Port Jervis, New York

Following a firestorm provoking January 9, 2018 Facebook post by Port Jervis common councilman Stanley Siegel that leaked news of a proposed methadone clinic in the city's business district, mayor Kelly Decker has responded three days later with a detailed Facebook post of his own.    The mayor's response describes the timeline of the proposed clinic that was first brought to his attention in April 2017 and notes that an Orange County official acknowledged such a clinic would draw clients from nearby New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The not-for-profit company behind the proposed clinic, Cornerstone Family Healthcare, currently provides dental, internal medicine, women's health, pediatric, and related services in Port Jervis.  It also has several other locations in Orange County as well as in Rockland, Broome, and Ulster Counties in New York, and Milford, Pennsylvania.   The mayor's post states that Cornerstone Family Healthcare is also likely to run the Westchester Medical Center Health Network "medical village" proposed for Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis.  The following text is the mayor's post in its entirety including recommended actions and related links.
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2018 Jan 12 (5:30 am) -

Attention Residents of the City of Port Jervis, New York

The city needs your help, support, guidance, and understanding.
In short, Cornerstone Family Medical, a non-profit organization, is exploring to open a Methadone/Suboxone stand-alone clinic at the Hunt Building located at 123 Pike Street in our downtown business district. The Common Council and I just found out about this on Tuesday and we do NOT believe a clinic should be located there. If you agree, here are some of the options you have to make your voice on this matter officially heard.

Speak at a council meeting to have your comments documented.

Speak at a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting (should Cornerstone apply for the variance at the Pike Street location) and have your comments documented and taken into consideration.

Create a petition and present it to the Common Council.

Send letters to Cornerstone Family Medical CEO and/or COO. (Linda S. Muller, M.S.; President and Chief Executive Officer; 2570 Route 9W, Suite 10; Cornwall, New York 12518 lmuller@cornerstonefh.org or David Jolly, PHD; Chief Operating Officer; 2570 Route 9W, Suite 10; Cornwall, New York 12518 djolly@cornerstonefh.org )

(NOTE: It would be helpful if you send an email or letter to Cornerstone to cc: the Mayor’s office at portjervismayor@gmail.com or send a hardcopy to: Port Jervis Mayor; 20 Hammond Street; Port Jervis, New York 12771)

Below I will go into full detail for those that truly want to understand where we are at, how did we get here, and where do we go from here.

The Mayor’s office was contacted by Cornerstone Family Medical in the early spring of 2017 and a meeting was set for Friday, April 21, 2017. At this meeting the Mayor was advised that Cornerstone would most likely be the organization that will run the medical village at Bon Secour Community Hospital in Port Jervis. In addition, the CEO, COO, and others that were present from Cornerstone also advised the Mayor that they wanted to open a stand-alone Methadone/Suboxone clinic either in the plaza on Pike Street, the county building on Pike Street, or next to the Dollar General on Jersey Avenue. This stand-alone clinic would say Cornerstone Family Medical on the sign outside but would only be a Methadone/Suboxone clinic open from 6:00am – 10:00am. I was adamantly against any of those suggested areas as well as being very skeptical on the treatment means that is currently in place for addicts today. I suggested that should there be a need for treatment in our City, it should be done in a medical/hospital setting. The meeting closed with the idea of them exploring the hospital or the Roberta Glinton medical arts building which is across the street from the hospital. My reasoning for this would be the same reasoning I have given the county, for the last 4 years, regarding their outpatient mental health facility on Pike Street. Patient/Clients should be in a medical setting for anonymity plus any specialized service that might be needed are also located there too (e.g.: detox, mental health in-patient, medical treatment, etc.)

On Sunday, April 23, 2017, I notified the Council about the contents of that meeting and advised them that this was nothing that would be rushed into but that we should keep an eye on this development.

During this time period I was contacted by a County official who said to me that this clinic was needed in this area, while I adamantly disagreed on the proposed clinic locations, I did agree that there is a real drug issue here. I was further told by the County official that a clinic here would also help Pike and Sussex County residents too. Aha! That told me right there what this was really about. It was about getting additional clientele for this “non-profit organization.” Please understand that in a non-profit organization, employees can be well paid top to bottom, they can run the organization with a profit, as long as they do not go outside the organization, and they must use that profit to promote their “charitable cause”. Many times, organizations like this are contracted by the state to provide services for those that do not have insurance as it fits in the model of how the state does business with non-profit.

As many of you know I was the D.A.R.E. officer in Port Jervis for 10 years and I have done a lot of mixed research on drugs and the topic of rehabilitation. Yes, we like other communities have a drug problem. The difference, is ours is documented because we aggressively arrest here. No matter what, you can find arguments for and against current treatments but like most things, that our state and federal government throw money at, it is something that really doesn’t have full answers or conclusions. (PLEASE check out some of the links below on Rehab, Success, Numbers, Evidence, Recovery, Facts, Causes, Population, Demographics, and Treatment.) There is NO full proof cure!

On Monday afternoon May 1, 2017, I sent an email to Dave Jolly, COO of Cornerstone Family Medical to advise him that I discussed this issue with residents, business owners, and council members and advised that there would be resistance to a facility here in Port Jervis. Dr. Jolly responded that night by stating that they would look into the Roberta Glinton building further.

On Thursday, May 18, 2017, I received an email from Dr. Jolly stating that they looked again at the Dollar General site and the Glinton building site and said the issue with parking is a major concern of theirs. He requested us to re-consider the county office location on Pike Street. Please note: It is documented that the county wants a treatment center here in Port Jervis to “help them close the gap [on transportation] http://www.chroniclenewspaper.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article….” I responded to that email, that day, and told him that the site on Pike Street was totally not acceptable as we have plans to put SUNY Orange/OU BOCES there. I further advised that the stigma that comes with a clinic of this type would be very detrimental to the success of the college. I further advised that I didn’t want to sound uncooperative but although he worries about 90+ current patients in the 12771-zip code (that includes Port Jervis, Deerpark, and Greenville), I have over 9,000 residents of the city and business owners that I have to make sure that their concerns, fears, safety, and wishes are addressed too. I forwarded the emails to the Council so they were aware of the situation. That night I received a response from Dr. Jolly who stated, and I quote “We hear you and understand your position, we will continue down the road with the building next to the Hospital. We need to clear that with the Hospital, but I would not expect any resistance, we appreciate your support and guidance on this issue. We will be sure to touch base as soon as we have the location finalized, if anything changes we will be in touch.” I have not heard back from anyone at Cornerstone since May 18, 2017.

On Thursday, August 17, 2017, I was asked to meet with our County legislator Tom Faggione and our District Attorney Dave Hoovler. Mr. Foster, 1st Ward Councilman and Police Commissioner, sat in on the meeting. In our discussion I was advised to “find a place in the city for a clinic” as I was told that there is an epidemic here and it needs to be addressed. I again agreed that there is a drug problem here and again that the problem is in every municipality in our country but I also know that no treatment is full proof. I certainly want to make sure and provide those that want help and want to get better, can. But I also don’t want to give those that take advantage of the system an outlet to cause any further damage on our community. In addition, I was told that transportation to Newburgh (where Cornerstone’s current methadone/suboxone clinic is located) is another big issue for the county. I advised them of my previous meeting and emails with Cornerstone and Dr. Jolly. But I was told that I need to find “another place in the city” other than the Roberta Glinton building. I of course named several locations outside of the city. Since I realize Pike and Sussex Counties are a focus for additional patients for Cornerstone to make this work financially for them, I quite frankly do not want them to come into our city. I also suggested some locations in the Town of Deerpark. Of course, I am pretty sure our neighbors in Deerpark do not want this either, but there is a rehabilitation location on Route 209 that would be ideal. Instead I was told that it needs to be within walking distance in the city. Therefore, I said that I was firm on the hospital/Roberta Glinton location if it had to come to Port Jervis. I was then asked to come up with one more location. I didn’t want to agree to another location but I was being pushed to think of another location. So, the only other location that I could come up with was the former (Sunnyside Hospital) that now houses the defunct Middletown Community Health Center. I advised them that I didn’t like the location as it is in a residential area and certainly not fair to those that live and own homes there. But if I had to pick a second location in the city it would be the only other medical service location that would provide other medical services as well as anonymity protecting the patient/client. I haven’t heard again from the County on this issue.

On October 6, 2017, a friend of mine contacted me regarding a rumor that she heard about a Methadone Clinic going in next to the police department. I told her that I hadn’t heard anything about it. She went on to tell me how she knows first hand about the issues that go on at Cornerstone in Newburgh and especially what she believes is illegal activity in the parking lot. She continued that the City of Port Jervis does not want this type of facility here and I agreed.

I again have not heard another word on this subject until…

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at 4:00pm when my building official, Dave Rivera, sought me out on Front Street and advised me of a concern he had. He said he met with an architect out of Binghamton NY by the name of Corey Layton and Mr. Layton had plans for the 3rd floor of the Hunt Building (approximately 9,000 square feet) at 123 Pike Street. After going through the plans with the architect and asking several times what the new business would be going in there, Mr. Layton finally advised that he was hired by Cornerstone Medical Health to design a Methadone/Suboxone outpatient clinic at that location. Mr. Rivera advised Mr. Layton that our business district is in a renaissance and this type of facility is not welcome nor wanted there and with that Mr. Rivera sought me out and advised me of the situation. I immediately sent an email to the council and department heads to discuss options for the city as well as how to notify our city residents.

Councilman Siegel believing he was doing the right thing by notifying the public, through Facebook, continues to receive a tremendous response but unfortunately at this time; this type of venue doesn’t always get listened too, documented accurately, and can become a haven for mistruths, innuendos, and name calling.

I was also contacted that night by our County legislator Tom Faggione, who I called back, regarding the post and this situation. He told me verbally that he now agrees that this clinic should not be in our downtown business district and that he would publicly stand with us on this issue.

Since Tuesday… I have reached out to Dr. Jolly in an email, who responded that they are only exploring a “Medically Supervised Treatment Center” at 123 Pike Street but that nothing is firm yet as they don’t even have a signed lease. He also stated he was going to contact us when they were able to open a dialogue regarding the treatment center as they didn’t have enough detail to discuss it at this time. He also stated that they have another location in mind, in the city, but did not state where the location was. Lastly, he told me that 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.

I reached out to the owner of 123 Pike Street who advised me that he was in discussion with Cornerstone on a “medical facility location” there. While he wasn’t privy to exactly what was going to be put there, I understood his need to fill his empty space, while he understood my position, as well as the publics, on the location and issue at hand.

I also reached out to the owner of the Roberta Glinton building who told me that no one has contacted him regarding leasing of space at that building in which he has over 7,000 square foot available.

I want to say personally that I now understand, as my gut felt on Friday, April 21, 2017, that this organization is deceitful at best and we want to know how our public feels about this too.

So here is what your council is currently exploring:

I sent the email described above to COO Jolly asking if it was true that Cornerstone was pursuing a stand-alone Methadone/Suboxone clinic at 123 Pike Street.

I then wrote letters to both the CEO and COO of Cornerstone Family Medical advising them of our displeasure and unacceptance of this type of deceitful tactic to place a major health care crisis facility in our city business district without any contact, discussion, or notification. I demanded full disclosure and requested that they stop the pursuance of this location immediately.

Please understand that when a “business” wants to open in our City, the Council really has no or limited control of who goes in and what business they do but…

Our Corporation Council William Bavoso has said Mr. Rivera will do a complete review of the proposal, if it is received, as there is control in Zoning and Planning.

…and according to some of our Local Laws

Section 535-61B of the Zoning Law states that proposed uses may require site plan approval before issuance of a building permit or certificate of occupancy.

Section 535-61G of the Zoning Law states that the Planning Board or Building Official, before authorizing any use must consider public health, safety, and general welfare of the public in general and the residents of the immediate neighborhood in particular.

Section 535-61G(4) states that the character of the proposed use must be in general harmony with the surrounding neighborhood. Subparagraph (7), entitled "Harmony", provides that the use must be in character and harmony with the orderly development of the district where it is proposed and will not be detrimental to the orderly development of adjacent properties.

…Also according to the definitions of Hospital and of Office, Professional and Business in the Zoning Law, A Methadone Clinic/Dispensary would clearly fall under the definition of a Hospital thus requiring a use variance in the Commercial Business District so the public will be able to comment should Cornerstone decide to go in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals too.

Lastly, we will also look at the “Drug-Free Zone laws” of New York State, as this rehabilitation center would prescribe and send their patients/clients out with controlled substances on them and there is a youth center as well as the library and other businesses in the area that provide for children’s care.

Below please find the links that can help you understand what these drugs do as well as review concerns of a cure or continuance of enabling.

Methadone: https://www.drugs.com/methadone.html

Suboxone: https://www.drugs.com/suboxone.html

How to Help: https://drugabuse.com/library/how-to-help-a-heroin-addict/ (Approach, Treatment, Quotes, Recovery, Signs)

Rehab Success Rates and Statistics: https://americanaddictioncenters.org/…/success-rates-and-s…/ (Define Rehab, Treatment Success, Relapse Numbers, Research/Practice Based Evidence, and Sustained Recovery)

Statistics on Drug Addiction: https://americanaddictioncenters.org/…/addiction-statistics/ (Quick Facts, Causes, Population and Demographics, Stats on Treatment)


 

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