CORTLANDT, N.Y. ‒ The methadone clinic that is operated by Hudson Valley Hospital Center and serves hundreds of multi-addicted persons a year will close its doors this summer.
July 6 is expected to be the last day of service, according to a statement released by the hospital Tuesday. The hospital is working to find positions for the clinic's nine employees as well as new care locations for the patients.
The hospital received a letter from the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse on Feb. 1 approving closure of the program, which it has run since 1979.
According to the hospital’s statement, reimbursement has not fully covered the cost of the program for many years. The hospital said a request for additional funds was denied.
“This is nothing to celebrate as this was not our plan to halt services. Our plan was to keep the services going for what is a much needed service for this community,” said John C. Federspiel, president of the Hudson Valley Hospital Center.
Federspiel said the hospital has hosted for the clinic for many years and hoped the City of Peekskill would drop its fight against a controversial new clinic planned for Corporate Drive. The city brought a lawsuit against the project after its planning commission approved the clinic last summer. The head of the planning commission has since stepped down.
“We proudly operated it for over 30 years, and it took five years to find a qualified partner but only one year for the City of Peekskill to put a halt to the service,” Federspeil said. "It is really a shame that the city has shown this level of bias towards these patients.”
On Wednesday, Bill Dauster, the hospital’s vice president of marketing and development, told The Daily Voice that the hospital had hoped the Peekskill clinic would be up and running by the time its clinic closed.
"The city [of Peekskill] has started this whole entanglement and sued its own planning board, so who knows where this going to end up?" Dauster said. "What's really sad about this is the way people are viewing these patients. They are our neighbors and they're really me and you. It reminds me of the way people use to ostracize AIDS patients. These are patients who are sick and who need help and we thought we laid out the best plan for them and it's being undermined and it's really very sad."
Last summer, Hudson Valley Hospital Center entered into an agreement with the Renaissance Project to take over the management of the outpatient methadone clinic. Currently located in trailers in the rear of the hospital, the clinic treats about 230 multi-addicted patients annually.
The City of Peekskill released a brief statement addressing the hospital's announcement Wednesday afternoon."The last of the legal paperwork related to the Article 78 proceeding against the Planning Commission will be submitted to the courts by Feb. 26," said Peekskill spokesman Melanie Rener, "The City does not expect a legal decision on this action for four to six weeks and will comment at that time."