Muller: “… bring everyone to a common ground”
PORT JERVIS – Cornerstone Family Healthcare officials addressed the Port Jervis public and stakeholders from neighboring communities Friday evening during a forum organized to gain input regarding Cornerstone’s interest in setting up a medication-assisted drug treatment facility in the city.
The facility would treat some of the overflow from hundreds of potential candidates who are on waiting lists, or are having to travel as far as from Carmel and Newburgh for treatment, as well as provide the medications, methadone and Suboxone, to patients suffering from opioid dependence, in addition to other addiction related services.
President and CEO of Cornerstone, Linda Muller, told about 150 people at the Salvation Army church on Ball Street that they want to educate people and possibly reconcile some of the misunderstandings between those in favor and those opposed to having the treatment facility in Port Jervis.
“People sit on both sides of the fence,” said Muller. “Some are afraid of the program, others who have been in treatment know what it can do. Our goal is to try and bring everyone to a common ground, understand that we should remove the stigma of people trying to get into treatment, allow for folks to feel comfortable to go into recovery and to help. The way that we can is to treat this like an illness, just as we would any other illness.”
According to statistics from the state Department of Health, the Hudson Valley counties of Orange, Ulster, Sullivan, Dutchess and Greene counties account for the largest concentration of overdose deaths in the state by county, far outweighing the incidences that occurred in the City of New York. Those stats haven’t been adjusted since 2015; however, in the time since then, Port Jervis has continued to see an increased number of overdose deaths.
Despite the existence of drug markets and overdoses in Port Jervis, Mayor Kelly Decker said there is still a vocal population who do not want such a facility in their residential and business districts.
“Most of the concerns are that fear, that people don’t want it,” said Decker. “I’m not in favor of that type of treatment, but the best part of that treatment is to be in a medical facility, so that there are other doctors available, other types of doctors, especially when it comes to psychiatry, comes to detoxification and comes to mental health.”
During the forum it became apparent that the majority of opposition stemmed from a disconnect between those who had either received treatment, or had a loved one in recovery and those who are completely removed from the world of addiction and recovery.
To that end, COO of Cornerstone Family Health David Jolly shared some of the key pieces of information learned regarding patients who have been involved in medically assisted addiction treatments.
Methadone is known to be the most effective opioid dependence treatment medication with success rates up to 70 percent. Methadone, compared to other newer medications like Suboxone, has over 80 years of medical studies’ data attributed to it.
Treatment duration ranges from short periods to 11 years, with a median duration of 2.4 years from maintenance dosing to complete removal from medication
Relapses do occur and are expected by medical professionals during the duration of treatment.
Cornerstone officials have not yet found a definitive location for the facility, but said they, ideally, want it to be in Port Jervis, as they have recently taken over the former Middletown Community Health Centers there.
They have been invited to continue the dialogue with Mayor Decker and are considering putting on an informational forum for residents regarding medication-assisted treatment before moving forward.