GARDEN CITY, NY —
"From the park bench to Park Avenue, this is a disease that doesn't care who you are or where you come from. But, with the proper support, I can tell you that there is hope, and for everyone struggling, you are not alone."
That was the powerful statement offered by Jonathan Allen, of Garden City, NY, who fought opioid addiction for more than a decade before he was successfully treated at Zucker Hillside Hospital, part of Northwell Health.
Mr. Allen joined Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, staff from Zucker Hillside and Northwell, and other patients in celebrating the opening of the hospital's new Garden City Treatment Center at 711 Stewart Avenue. Zucker Hillside opened the 8,000-square-foot facility this summer to accommodate a 40 percent increase in patient volume over the past several years, much of it driven by the opioid epidemic sweeping the country.
The new facility replaces Zucker Hillside's Community Treatment Center in Mineola, which had been caring for individuals and families struggling with substance abuse disorders for more than 30 years. With nearly 15 clinical staff, the Garden City center is already treating more than 300 patients and is prepared to take on additional clientele to meet the growing demand for services.
"We are committed to addressing the opioid crisis here on Long Island, and this beautiful new center is our way of helping with the problem," said Bruce Goldman, LCSW, director of substance abuse services at Zucker Hillside. "With a larger physical plant, we will be able to help more people who are struggling to put their lives back together."
The center offers programs that "span the life cycle," offering a variety of specialized services that meet the unique needs of adolescents, adults, family groups, and senior citizens living with substance misuse issues.
Mr. Allen, 30, said his problems began following a torn ACL he sustained as a 16-year-old, when he was prescribed a trio of highly-addictive medications by his family physician. "Even at that time, I knew my struggle had begun," he said. "It hasn't been easy, but I'm happy to say that it has been worth it. I have a wonderful job, a beautiful girlfriend, a supportive family and I'm happy to say that I've been clean for two years. The truth is that the people at this facility have made me a better man."
Another patient, Ronald Negron, 43, struggled with alcoholism and other substance abuse problems. A former pilot, Mr. Negron lost his license following a drunk-driving incident in 2003. As he sees it, this was the incident that changed his life. "I just woke up one day and realized I was tired of all this," he said. "This program has changed my life. I just got a new job that I love and I hope to be a pilot in the near future. I've been clean for two years and I'm here today to urge anyone in need of help to come and ask for it. So many people struggle with addiction and are ashamed to seek help. I know it's difficult to accept you have a disease, but your life is literally on the line. Just know you are not alone."
District Attorney Singas spoke of the critical need for organizations on Long Island to work together. "While it might seem unusual that a prosecutor would be sitting on a panel like this, we are here to recognize that the opioid crisis is very real here on Long Island. We must all work together to provide treatment so that people affected by this crisis can change their lives."
While emphasizing that her office is committed to investigating and prosecuting those individuals found guilty of dealing in the drug trade, she added, "We can't arrest our way out of this crisis. A center like this gives me so much hope for our community."
Garden City Treatment Center accepts most insurance plans, including Medicaid, Medicare and Medicare supplements. No one will be denied services due to an inability to pay.
Hours of operation are Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
For questions or to schedule an appointment, call 516-742-4015.
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About Zucker Hillside Hospital
Zucker Hillside Hospital is one of Northwell Health's behavioral health centers of excellence, recognized for its world-renowned clinical, teaching and research programs. With 234 beds, the hospital offers a range of inpatient specialties that include early phase treatment of depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, and personality disorders. To complete further studies of schizophrenia, the National Institute of Health established a Clinical Research Center at Zucker Hillside Hospital, which is today one of only four such facilities in the nation. Outpatient services offer patients the use of various health centers, partial hospital treatment programs, and the full range of psychiatric rehabilitation services that encompass Northwell Health's complete continuum of care.