Conifer Park Job Fair – November, 11, 2019

Outpatient Substance Abuse Services Open House – Schenectady, NY

July 18, 2018 – Patient Empowerment To Improve Quality of Care

May 17, 2018 – Unspoken Obstacles in Treatment and Therapeutic Approaches

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Conifer Park Recovery Month September 2017

Over the years, National Recovery Month (recovery Month) has inspired millions of people to raise awareness about mental and / or substance use disorders, share their stories of recovery, and encourage others who are still in need of services and support. Here is a look at what was done here at Conifer Park in celebration of Recovery.

Recovering Addict: Conifer Park Saved My Life

FACILITY: Assemblyman D. Billy Jones heard from clients, treatment professionals during tours, round tables

PLATTSBURGH — Two years ago, Conifer Park was administering methadone and Suboxone to 72 clients on a weekly basis.

At 140 now, that number has almost doubled, Nursing Coordinator Karla Lyon told Assemblyman D. Billy Jones during a recent tour of the facility.

That could be interpreted as a positive in some ways, as awareness surrounding the opiate epidemic has increased and more people are ready to get help.

“It’s not just the methadone and Suboxone (as treatment),” said Michelle Collings, director of Conifer Park’s outpatient clinic.

“They get a lot of support.”

“We’re a very hands-on clinic,” Lyon said.



Jones, his chief of staff, Molly Ryan, and Francene Cornell, who lost her son to an opiate overdose in July 2016, visited Conifer Park and other local treatment centers recently for round tables on the opiate epidemic.

Several current and past clients in recovery shared their stories, assured by clinic staff that only their first names would be released.

At Conifer Park, Lucinda, Kaylah and Kevin talked to Jones about what worked for them in treatment and why they decided to get help.



Lucinda has been clean for 20 months.

She said that when she came to Conifer Park, she was at death’s door, and the treatment center saved her life.

Methadone didn’t work for her, but she has stayed sober while on Suboxone.

Though she has graduated as a client, she still sees a Conifer Park doctor.

When Jones asked her why she decided to get clean, Lucinda said she was sick and tired of being sick and tired, having lost her marriage and house while she struggled with addiction.

Along with the Suboxone, Alcoholics Anonymous helped her pull through: She went to 14 meetings each week her first year in recovery and still goes five days a week.



Kaylah held her 4-month-old son as she spoke.

She admitted that when she first came to Conifer Park in 2015, she was hurt and confused and not ready to get help.

Kaylah had just gotten out of a bad relationship, and Clinton County Child Protective Services had removed her two other children.

After relapsing many times, she was kicked out of Conifer Park.



Kaylah later went to a Conifer Park rehab facility in Schenectedy for two and a half weeks, since that’s all her insurance would allow.

Doctors didn’t taper her off methadone and couldn’t let her leave sick, so they put her on Suboxone.

She is a participant in Mental Health Court and under probation.

At one point, she tested positive for methadone while on Suboxone, even though, she said, she hadn’t used it.

After going to jail for five days, she returned to Conifer Park’s Plattsburgh clinic and found out she was pregnant.



Kaylah doesn’t believe in God, thinking instead that we get here because we do all the work, but felt she had a spiritual awakening with news of her new baby.

She had lost her other two children because she put a man and drugs before them; she wasn’t going to do that again.

Kaylah said she has been clean since June 16, 2016.

For a while, she could only visit her other two children one hour per week, but on Aug. 30 she was granted visitation of multiple days and hours per week.

Little by little, she said, her family is coming back together.



It took a lot for Kevin to come to the round table, given the stigma that still surrounds addiction.

But he wouldn’t be who he is without Conifer Park, he said.

Kevin decided to get clean out of personal guilt. He had never pictured himself doing drugs and feels he lost himself for 10 years — disappointing himself, his mother, his grandmother.

Though it took him a while to get into recovery, he said it helped that he could to go to work while receiving treatment.

He works 70 hours per week and would not have been able to take a month off to got to an inpatient facility.

By building trust with the people he worked with at Conifer Park, he was able to earn take-homes, meaning he does not always have to come in to receive the medication he needs.

He tries to pay it forward by doing good every day.



Kaylah believes that people struggling with addiction have to want to get well.

Her first time at Conifer Park, she didn’t want it and was mean to those who wanted to help her. 

Now, she loves all of them and is so thankful they gave her a second chance.

“Because of this epidemic, people who come here are so sick,” Collings said.

“We see them at their worst, but we celebrate them at their best.

“For these guys, just walking in the door was probably the hardest part.”



Nurses administer the medications — narcotics used to treat narcotic drug addiction — six days a week, Collings said.

That constant contact allows them to get focused on treatment and recovery.

Many people come in by self-referral, Collings said, having to call repeatedly until spots open up.

Kevin called for a couple of weeks.

At his first appointment, he remembered, Collings took notes on a white pad, jotting down a summary of his years of addiction, judgment-free.

“It’s an assessment for level of care and need,” she explained.



Kaylah had less of a wait — her second time around, Collings told her to come in the next day.

Conifer Park does not currently have a waiting list, the clinic director said.

“As we’ve grown, we’ve been able to add staff,” she said, though finding credentialed, licensed clinicians in the area is a barrier.

“We need to be ready to strike when the iron’s hot, or we’re going to lose them.”



Conifer Park Director of Outpatient Operations Kurt Brown commended Kevin for bringing up the stigma he has faced and said that agencies also face that judgment.

Compared to other communities, Plattsburgh has been very supportive of offering medication-assisted treatment, he said.

But he did voice concerns about the quality of medicabs that offer transport for non-emergency medical appointments.

“I want people to have jobs that need to have jobs,” Brown told Jones, adding that it’s difficult to communicate with the organization managing medicabs.

“We want to make sure people are coming to treatment in a safe environment.”



Collings’s Troy-based counterpart, Joe LaCoppola, emphasized that without the Plattsburgh clinic, the closest place people would be able to get medication-supported treatment is Albany.

However, he continued, there need to be some consistent standards and codings for insurance companies, as there are often barriers to prescribing medications like Suboxone.

Jones asked if that is because of abuses of such medications or that the insurance companies want more money.

“A little bit of both,” LaCoppola said. “An outpatient program like ours has the ability to dispense and engage individuals early in treatment.”

But, he said, “it’s not one shoe that fits all.”



Dr. Ruchika Saini emphasized the need to individualize treatment.

Treatment providers need to be aware of when people get Suboxone and don’t come back, indicating abuse.

“It’s important that we be vigilant,” she said. 

“If we see a problem, we say they have to come to the window,” Saini added, referring to where nurses administer the medication.

“But that doesn’t mean they’ll stay at the window.”


Email Cara Chapman:

Twitter: @PPR_carachapman



Champlain Valley Family Center

Service(s): Prevention, outpatient services.

Prevention contact: Constance “Connie” Wille.

May 18 Conference – Complexities of Treating Heroin Addiction

May 18 Conference – Save the Date

Conifer Park

Save The Date

Conifer Park will host its annual training entitled “ Complexities of Treating Heroin Addiction”
May 18, 2017
Main Lecture Hall
Conifer Park
79 Glenridge Road
Glenville, New York 12302

Additional questions may be directed to
Joanne E. Egnaczyk-Gonda at
(518) 265-1465 or by email at
CASAC Hours Pending
Additional Information To Follow

Opioid replacement drugs out of reach for many in upstate

Link to original:

  APR 25, 2016

When Melissa Ives was recovering from a brutal motorcycle accident, the opioid medication she was prescribed helped mask the pain. But eventually, those pills ran out so she turned to a cheaper alternative – heroin.

“I was addicted for five years,” Ives said. “I could do up to 40 bags a day of heroin and it’s just a miracle I’m not dead. I am grateful to be walking and talking.”

Ives, who lives in Fulton, attributes her recovery to the treatment she received in  Syracuse, where many drug abusers in central New York turn because there are few clinics in the area with comparable services.

One of those detoxification clinics is at Crouse Hospital, where they offer an opioid replacement called methadone. It’s administered daily under the supervision of health professionals. The hospital’s chemical dependency treatment director Monika Taylor said people from 17 counties in central New York travel to Crouse to get the daily dosage.

“Right now, we have a wait list of about 380 patients for this particular treatment,” Taylor said. “So, for the methadone program there is probably at this point a 9-12 month wait before somebody can get admitted.”

Taylor said this is not your typical wait list.

“There are definitely people that are continuing to use while they are out there waiting to get into the program and we have heard of people dying that are on the wait list.”

Conifer Park in Liverpool started sharing some of that load this month with their new methadone program, which will help alleviate the crushing demand. Conifer Park’s director of regional services Mike Kettle said Crouse and others were supportive of their efforts.

“This is something we saw a great need for, we got support from the state and the community and I truly do believe today we are going to be saving lives,” Kettle said.

Even with the two methadone clinics in Onondaga County, only 10 of the state’s 95 methadone clinics are located in upstate. That can mean long commutes for people in the 42 counties that don’t have a methadone clinic.

Federal officials are trying to expand access to another opioid replacement drug called Suboxone, which can be taken at home. But eligible doctors are currently allowed to prescribe Suboxone for only 100 patients a year. Mark Stevens, whose son was once an addict, said that’s not enough in rural areas like Oswego County where only three doctors can prescribe the drug.

“If each doctor only gives a hundred, that’s 300 people in this huge community – Oswego County,” Stevens said. “300 people, that’s all they can take care of? There’s more than 300 addicts out there.”

The U.S. Department of Health is currently in the process of raising the limit of suboxone prescriptions to 200 per year. And, central New York Congressman John Katko (R-Camillus) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have proposed a bill that would allow eligible doctors to prescribe an unlimited amount. Still, Stevens said Suboxone is only part of the answer.

“Some of these doctors that give the Suboxone keep them on it for so many years,” Stevens. “If you find a facility that will wean them off it, then they get the proper health and then educate them and keep them going.”

Those ancillary services like therapy and counseling, which are part of a holistic recovery, are also struggling to keep up with the spike in drug abuse.

Editor’s note:

Susan Craig with the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse services (OASAS) said the state is working to treat the abuse epidemic by expanding access to buprenorphine, opioid drug replacements, and other treatment services.

“The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has been actively engaged in adding more than 2,000 opioid treatment slots to its system of care, mostly in upstate NY,” Craig said in an email. “In addition, OASAS has made it possible for current opioid treatment providers to request an increase in their treatment capacity limits. Additionally, prescribers of buprenorphine in OASAS-certified opioid treatment programs are allowed to treat an unlimited number of patients, so OASAS is encouraging New Yorkers interested in buprenorphine treatment to ask their opioid treatment provider about this treatment option.”

Craig said people can find inpatient treatment services available in real time at its bed availability dashboard.

Save the Date – “Drugs… The Devastation Continues”

SAVE THE DATE  – “Drugs… The Devastation Continues”

Conifer Park is once again pleased to offer a full day educational program on Heroin, Opiates and Other Drugs.

May 25, 2016 8:30am to 4:00pm Conifer Park

Additional questions may be directed to Joanne E. Egnaczyk-Gonda at (518) 265-1465 Or CASAC Hours Pending

Heroin, opiates, and other drugs continue to plague our communities. The resulting devastation is felt by families, congested legal and health systems and rising overdose deaths. This conference will provide information on frequented drugs of abuse, a therapeutic model for treating heroin and opiate addiction, and an educational format on medication assisted treatment options. With this conference we hope to once again bring hope and sobriety to those impacted by addiction.

Drug-Devastastion-1 Drug-Devastastion-2 Drug-Devastastion-3 Drug-Devastastion-4



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