January 30, 2019

Bolstering Substance Use Services in Rural New York State

Rendering of the new St. Joseph's facility in Saranac Lake, NY
Rendering of the new St. Joseph’s facility in Saranac Lake, NY

A new $3.3 million project will bring much-needed substance use services to New York State’s rural North Country, following accelerated bridge financing from the Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC) and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).

The financing allows St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center, Inc. to co-locate three important programs — a 10-bed detoxification unit, a 24/7 Open Access Center, and an expanded outpatient clinic — in one 8,000-square-foot renovated warehouse in the Village of Saranac Lake. The facility is expected to begin providing services early next year.

The Open Access Center assesses patients regardless of their insurance status, with no referrals required. If appropriate, patients can then be immediately referred to on-site outpatient treatment, a withdrawal bed, or emergency services at the nearby hospital, ensuring seamless delivery of care.

Robert Ross, CEO of St. Joseph's
Robert Ross, CEO of St. Joseph’s

“Partnering with PCDC for financing will allow St. Joseph’s to open this unique facility and begin providing services more than 12 months sooner than would be possible with the traditional funding process,” said Robert Ross, CEO of St. Joseph’s.

The expansion significantly affects a medically underserved, 4,000-square-mile area of the North Country, New York State’s largest geographical region. Although an estimated one in 10 residents is chemically dependent, the nearest options for care are located hours away in Albany or Syracuse. Unemployment, child poverty, and housing vacancy rates are also higher in the North Country than in the State as a whole, posing additional barriers to health.

St. Joseph’s has been providing life-saving recovery services related to alcoholism and chemical dependency since 1971. In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in heroin and opioid addiction diagnoses among patients admitted to the facility.

“St. Joseph’s mission has always been to identify the neediest individuals and families who are suffering from addiction and provide services for them,” said Rob Kent, General Counsel of OASAS. “Through our partnership with PCDC, we were able to help St. Joseph’s redouble efforts in the midst of an opioid and heroin crisis.”

The financing is being made available through the Community Health Care Revolving Capital Fund (the Fund). In close cooperation with OASAS, the PCDC-administered program was designed to fast-track funding and expansion for behavioral health centers.

“By acting as a financing facilitator in the Fund’s projects, PCDC is able to remove years from a project’s lifecycle,” said Anne Dyjak, Managing Director at PCDC. “The expedited process allows providers to focus on what matters most: serving patients.”