Amherst residents voice concern over future drug treatment center

Posted at 10:27 PM, Apr 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-11 23:19:25-04

Some lawmakers and residents are continuing to voice their concerns over the future location of a drug treatment center in Amherst.

Several members of the community attended a meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the relocation of Sisters of Charity Hospital's STAR Amherst outpatient chemical dependency treatment program from 3730 Sheridan Drive to 910 Millersport Highway. Catholic Health says the move will allow the expansion of services and to serve more patients in the community.

Residents tell 7 Eyewitness News that they are not opposed to a treatment facility, but are concerned about it being in their neighborhood and so close to nearby parks.

Assemblyman Ray Walter stated that he also is not opposed to a treatment center, but believes there has been a lack of communication between Catholic Health and the residents in Amherst.

In a statement, Catholic Health responded to the concern:

"The new center will have on-site security; however, we have not had security issues at any of our other chemical dependency treatment locations. To the average passerby, it will look like a typical doctor’s office. The site includes a large parking lot and we have blocked off access to North Ivyhurst with a privacy fence. The residents, who face the back of the building, should actually experience less disruption on their street than when the site was an auto parts store, since there will now only be access to the center from Millersport. Unfortunately, there is a misconception about patients in treatment. We are developing this site for people who live in Amherst. They are not dangerous, drug seeking vandals. They are people in recovery, who are grateful for treatment. They could be your friends, neighbors or coworkers. They are not going to risk losing these valuable services by jeopardizing the safety of the neighborhood."

Catholic Health says they will hold meetings with neighbors in the coming weeks and say they are confident that residents will have a better understanding of the services that will be provided.

In a statement, Catholic Health described the services will be provided at the new clinic:

"The new Sisters Amherst Health Center will offer a more holistic approach to chemical dependency and addiction treatment. Our goal is to treat the patient and not just the addiction. It will offer comprehensive chemical dependency treatment services for addictions to drugs, alcohol and prescription medications, along with primary care. In addition to these services, the new center will also offer medication-assisted treatment, which may include methadone, vivitrol or subxone depending on the needs of the patient."

The move is still pending approval from the state. Once it's approved, the new location is expected to open this fall.

Some residents say they would even consider moving if the clinic comes to their neighborhood.

"Why would I stay here?" said John Radzikowski, who lives near the future clinic. "I'm going to take a loss on my house, too."

"This is not the type of thing you would integrate into your neighborhood," said another resident.