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OASAS Responds to County Legislature About Proposed Drug Treatment Facility

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The state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has sent a letter to the Broome County Legislature attempting to answer their questions about the proposed Drug Treatment Facility in Binghamton. This response from the organization's Chief Counsel Robert Kent comes eight days after County Chairman Dan Reynolds first sent a letter requesting clarification on why the facility needs 50 beds.

"We did hear back today from Rob Kent but I don't know whether or not he addressed the issue that we asked him in the last letter," said Reynolds.

On Wednesday, Reynolds sent a followup letter to Kent again asking the same question - "why OASAS is recommending a 50-bed Medically Supervised Withdraw-Inpatient facility."

"When you look at the Medicaid numbers, we had 138 [recipients referred to OASAS medical detox facilities in 2016] in Broome County, 240 if you expand to Broome County and the four continuous counties so we want to understand how you got to 3,200 admissions as the right size for this community," said Reynolds.

The letter does not directly address why OASAS decided on 50 beds but does make other arguments as to why 50 is the correct number. They say the program will not open with 50 beds available on day one, adding "our experience is that no program opens at full capacity." 

"While it is our belief is [sic]  that there is a need in Broome County (and the surrounding counties) to occupy that number of beds, time will tell us if that is indeed true," writes Kent. "You have our commitment that we will work with you and your colleagues and other interested stakeholders in Broome County to create and maintain a capacity that prioritizes treating your county residents."

Kent's letter also references certain numbers including the fact that there were more than 450 reported administrations of Naloxone in Broome in 2016 and 87% of the people who received treatment at the Rochester facility (similar to Broome because it's a "large urban center) were from that county. The Syracuse Brick House in Rochester, which services Monroe county has 15 beds.

"This was billed as being a community facility and not a statewide facility and we found out that it was the third largest in the state and substantially larger than any of the ones in upstate New York," said Reynolds.

According to data from OASAS Certified MSW-I Facilities across New York, the 50 beds would be the third biggest in the entire state and the largest facility north of Westchester County.

Reynolds says he and the rest of the Legislature will review the information sent to them by OASAS and publically respond before the Meeting of the Whole on December 27. There the group will discuss and vote on whether or not to accept nearly $3 million in state funding to turn the old Broome Developmental Building into the new Drug Treatment Center.

You can read OASAS' response to the Legislature from December 20, Reynolds' letter from December 20, and his letter from December 12 below: