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MONTICELLO – NYS Attorney General Letitia James joined Sullivan County officials last Thursday to inaugurate Bridge Back to Life Center’s new mobile health unit, which will be used to bring sorely needed medical and substance use services to communities across the County.
“The opening of the Bridge Back to Life Center’s mobile treatment unit starts a new chapter of healing for Sullivan County,” said James. “After years of devastation by the opioid crisis, we are finally holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for the destruction they caused, so far bringing up to $1.5 billion that will go directly into communities for treatment, prevention, and education services just like this one. Our work to uplift communities weighed down by this crisis is far from done, but today we begin the healing process for so many families.”
“We were thrilled to welcome Attorney General James to today’s ribboncutting ceremony and deeply appreciate her support of this initiative,” said Gary Butchen, executive director of Bridge Back to Life Center, Inc., the private healthcare provider with whom Sullivan County’s Department of Community Services has contracted. “We intend to partner with as many of the local area providers and physician groups as we can to improve access to care.”
“We are targeting the most rural areas of the County, bringing Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) to combat the opioid epidemic in communities that haven’t had adequate access to services,” added Lowell Feldman, a Bethel resident and longtime healthcare professional who is partnering with Bridge Back to Life Center in this venture.
“This is really a dream come true,” noted Deputy Sullivan County Health & Family Services Commissioner Wendy Brown, who co-chairs the Drug Task Force with District Attorney Meagan Galligan. “We could not be successful without the phenomenal job that law enforcement, healthcare, service providers, County legislators and people on higher levels do. We WILL get better in Sullivan County – we’re getting better already!”
“This is a welcomed and needed addition to the services in Sullivan County,” agreed Melissa Stickle, Sullivan County’s Director of Community Services. “This mobile unit will provide much-needed access to services. As a new provider and a member of United Sullivan, all services will be provided in a welcoming and respectful manner. We are really excited to welcome Bridge Back to Life to our community.”
Wrapped in bright signage by a team of Sullivan County BOCES students, the 32-foot-long, fully heated and air-conditioned mobile health unit will be staffed by a nurse practitioner licensed to prescribe MAT and render a variety of general healthcare services, along with a Certified Peer Recovery Advocate who will assist patients in securing needed social services. A Clinical Social Worker is anticipated to be added to the team in the future.
“One of the reasons I wanted to be a DARE officer was because there was no hope for our kids,” District 6 Legislator Luis Alvarez, a retired Sheriff’s Deputy, related. “So when they said we’re getting a trailer, I said, ‘Finally, we’re getting hope!’”
Sullivan County will have priority use of the unit as part of its comprehensive package of services currently offered to those dealing with substance use and other health issues.
“Our Division of Health & Family Services, which reports to my committee on the Sullivan County Legislature, doesn’t ever rest in responding to this crisis,” affirmed District 2 Legislator Nadia Rajsz. “In addition to the incredible work of our Drug Task Force, we offer on our website a complete list of substance use service providers, from healthcare groups to support groups, including an interactive map. We have a ‘Hope Line’ (866-832-5575) where anyone can call, 24/7, to get the help they need at the time they need it. We have personnel trained to provide Individual Psychotherapy, Marital & Family Counseling, Group Therapy, Medication Therapy, Crisis Intervention/Outreach, and Medication Assisted Therapy.
“We will not leave anyone out in the cold.”