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March 26, 2020 - 10:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCASA, news, video, live stram, covid-19, coronavirus.
Video Sponsor

We're talking with John Bennett, executive director of GCASA.

March 25, 2020 - 3:18pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA.

Press release:

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse remains open during the COVID-19 pandemic with modifications in place to protect the health of patients and staff.

“We are open and providing treatment services in Albion and Batavia,” Executive Director John Bennett said. “Group sessions have been cancelled, but we are still accepting appointments for individual counseling sessions or phone sessions.”

Bennett advised patients to call their GCASA counselor for further information, noting that tele-practice sessions are being set up to eliminate any exposure.

“It is also important to note that GCASA’s methadone clinic is the first of its kind to provide medication outside, something that’s being modeled at other agencies in the state,” Bennett said.

Residential services continue, again with preventive measures in place, and although Recovery Station on Clinton Street Road is temporarily closed to the public, it is being made available for GCASA’s Atwater House residents.

GCASA Prevention Department group programs, such as the DWI Victim Impact Panel and Children of Addiction Support Groups, have been cancelled for the time being.

Prevention Director Shannon Ford and her staff are working on creative ways to advance prevention messaging via social media and through the school districts.

Bennett said all employees are adhering to the coronavirus protocol during the crisis, with many being able to work remotely to decrease the number of people on site.

He encourages everyone to protect themselves and their loved ones by doing the following:

-- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
-- Maintain social distancing, keeping at least six feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing;
-- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth;
-- Practice respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately;
-- Seek medical care early if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

DISCLOSURE: Story by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

January 31, 2020 - 9:32am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GOW opioid task force, GCASA.


Gone, never forgotten and now providing inspiration for those reaching out to help others whose lives have been adversely affected by the opioid crisis.

That was the message conveyed by Nicole Anderson, Statewide Targeted Response case manager at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, as she provided information about a “remembrance painting” at the recent GOW Opioid Task Force meeting in Batavia.

“As part of Overdose Awareness Day last summer at Austin Park, we asked people to participate in remembering those we have lost to overdose deaths,” she said. “This beautiful painting – created and donated by one of our members -- was displayed at the event for loved ones to put a heart with the name of those they have lost.”

Anderson, who lost her stepfather to a heroin overdose 17 years ago, went on to say that the task force put the painting on display in agencies across Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, and now has extended the opportunity for community members to add their loved ones’ names to the painting.

“It is our hope that the task force will continue to support those who have lost loved ones and honor the memories of those who have passed and, this year, with the support of the GOW Opioid Task Force Steering Committee, we would like to donate this painting to the GCASA Recovery Center,” she said.

The Recovery Center, located at the former Bohn’s Restaurant on Clinton Street Road, is scheduled to open by the end of February.

Anderson also serves as the secretary of the task force’s Families, Loved Ones and Allies Work Group, which is committed to providing support and resources for those distressed by the opioid epidemic.

She said another Overdose Awareness Day is planned for this August. The 2019 inaugural event drew more than 100 people and more than a dozen representatives from substance abuse prevention agencies in the tri-county area.

Photo: Members of the GOW Opioid Task Force display a “remembrance painting” dedicated to those who have died as a result of the opioid crisis. From left are Nick Volpe, Marlowe Thompson, Brandon Fogg, Scott Davis, Chris Budzinack, Debbie Dutton, Ricco Oquendo, Sue Gagne, Nicole Anderson and Christen Ferraro.

Disclosure: Story and photo by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

January 24, 2020 - 8:07am


On a national level, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses has decreased over the past two years, but that trend doesn’t give the nearly 450 members of the GOW Opioid Task Force any reason to relax their efforts in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

That was the message communicated by the coalition’s leaders on Wednesday during their quarterly meeting at the Quality Inn & Suites on Park Road in Batavia. About 100 people representing a cross-section of organizations from the three counties attended.

“We’ve seen a 5 percent decrease from 2017 (in the number of opioid-related deaths) and that’s a positive thing … but we need to stay the course, even if the numbers are going down,” said Paul Pettit, public health director of Genesee and Orleans counties.

Pettit’s statement is especially true when considering the data from the GOW counties, particularly Genesee, which had an opioid overdose death rate of 36.2 per 100,000 people in 2017 – one of the highest in the United States.

That number went down to 21.1 in 2018, but in Orleans County the rate rose from 17.1 to 29.5 from 2017 to 2018 while in Wyoming County the rate stayed the same at 27.

The opioid epidemic started due to physicians’ overprescribing drugs such as Oxycodone, Pettit said, and evolved into serious problems with heroin and fentanyl after laws were passed that restricted access to the prescription drugs.

Drug overdoses resulted in nearly 800,000 deaths to Americans from 1999 through 2018, including 47,590 from opioids in 2018 alone, Pettit reported.

Pettit applauded the work of the GOW Task Force which has taken on the crisis by pooling the resources of the three counties and developing six “work groups” that meet on a regular basis – Access to Care, Community Education, Data, Family/Loved Ones/Allies, Law Enforcement and Naloxone.

He also noted the significance of funding provided by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

“The funding is very important in that it enabled the task force to hire someone (a project coordinator) with a dedicated focus,” he said. “They see the value in what we are doing.”

The meeting also featured reports from the chairpersons of the work groups and task force evaluators, updates from the GRHF President Matthew Kuhlenbeck and GOW Task Force Coordinator Christen Ferraro, and a summation of the state’s new bail reform law by Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O’Geen (see story below).

Access to Care – John Bennett and Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, executive director and project director, respectively, at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and Holli Gass, clinic director at Spectrum Health and Human Services, outlined the numerous services and programs that have been instituted in all three counties – programs such as expanded jail services, childcare for patients, crisis housing and certified peer recovery advocate training.

Bennett also said that a 16-bed detox center and recovery recreation center in Batavia and a 25-bed women’s and children’s residence in Albion are on the horizon (with the recovery center at the former Bohn’s Restaurant expected to open by the end of February).

Community Education – Sherri Bensley, a GCASA employee, explained the role of this work group is to facilitate the task force meetings, including setting up venues, speakers and vendor tables, and to coordinate media campaigns with the three county’s hospitals.

Specific ongoing projects are educating the senior population about opioids and the handling of prescription medications and assisting the task force in distributing “Dispose Rx” packets.

Data – Brenden Bedard, Genesee County director of community health services and deputy public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, said the role of the evaluators is to ensure that task force initiatives are data-driven, to get that data to the community and to use the data to support grant applications.

In addition to the county overdose death rates mentioned above, he reported that there were 23 opioid overdose deaths in the three counties in 2019 – down from 38 the previous year – and that Naloxone (Narcan) administration – given to those who are overdosing from opioids -- has decreased in all three counties since 2017.

Bedard also said that more than 2,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected during “take back days” in both 2018 and 2019.

Families, Loved Ones and Allies – Sue Gagne, coordinator of the Recovery WOW program, said that the goal of her work group is to support families of those in active addiction or recovery and families of those who have died as a result of drug use.

She reported that the group plans another Overdose Awareness Day this summer at Austin Park.

Law Enforcement – Batavia City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch touted the tri-county law enforcement collaboration on projects such as drug drop-off and jail programs, and participation in the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative that creates non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery.

Naloxone – Chairperson Charlotte Crawford reported that more than 1,300 people have been trained in the use of Narcan, including all of the peer recovery advocates.

A video, “Narcan After Care,” can be viewed on the GOW Opioid Task Force website at https://www.gowopioidtaskforce.org/.

Tom LaPorte, Ph.D., research scientist with the Center for Human Services Research, University of Albany, said that evaluation objectives include reaching 1,800 users per year with opioid information, deploying peers or recovery coaches to assist 90 percent of opioid patients and increasing the number of people trained to administer Narcan by 500 per year.

“This provides us with useful feedback that providers of services can use for data-driven decision-making,” he reported.

In closing, Kuhlenbeck and Ferraro spoke of the importance of making sure grants were available for programs in rural counties, and set goals as follows:

-- Establish and implement policies and protocols at United Memorial Medical Center, Orleans Community Health/Medina Memorial Hospital, and for contacting Peers/Wyoming County Community Health System Recovery Coaches on call every time a person arrives at the emergency department due to opioid use.

-- Establish a three-prong approach: peers called, bridge scripts are given, and naloxone training is provided.

-- Schedule and conduct doctor-to-doctor trainings and conversations in each county on opioids, non-opioid pain management alternatives, and limiting opioid prescription writing.

-- Conduct at least two community education events around non-opioid pain management alternatives, and create and publish two press releases or news articles on non-opioid pain management alternatives.

-- Communicate with Buffalo and Rochester hospitals to share policy best practices and advocate for and locally lead action toward improvements.

The next quarterly meeting of the GOW Task Force is scheduled for April 23 at a site to be determined.

Photo above: Taking part in Wednesday's GOW Opioid Task Force meeting were, from left, Christen Ferraro, task force coordinator; Donald O'Geen, Wyoming County district attorney; Paul Pettit, public health director of Genesee and Orleans counties; Laura Paolucci, Wyoming County public health administrator, and Matthew Kuhlenbeck, Greater Rochester Health Foundation president.

Disclosure: Story written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

January 16, 2020 - 11:26am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, GOW opioid task force.

Press release:

The quarterly meeting of the GOW Opioid Task Force is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at the Quality Inn & Suites Hotel on Park Road in Batavia.

Residents of Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming counties wanting to gain or share information regarding the opioid crisis are invited to attend.

“The purpose of this meeting is to address the growing opioid crisis by sharing information across several sectors and to monitor the task force’s progress in our tri-county region,” said Christen Ferraro, project coordinator. “You do not need to be a member (of the task force) to attend.”

Ferraro said the meeting will feature more than 10 community resource tables from agencies across the region.

“Our work groups will share their highlights of 2019 and plans for the upcoming year,” she said. “The Law Enforcement Work Group will be giving a presentation on the new bail reform law -- going into more detail on what it means and how it might affect our area – and task force evaluators will discuss their role and share and their findings from last year.”

She said representatives of the Greater Rochester Health Foundation will talk about the grant that supports the task force and how to connect with the organization to apply for community health grants.

For more information about the GOW Task Force, go to www.gowopioidtaskforce.org.

To attend the meeting, visit the Eventbrite link here to RSVP, or contact Ferraro at [email protected]

Disclosure: Written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

January 2, 2020 - 9:04am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA.

Today’s society invites people to gamble.

Casinos are at every turn.

Lotteries are run by state governments.

Sports betting is a click of the mouse away.

Getting in on the horse-racing action is as easy as turning on the TV.

Bombarded by messages such as “a dollar and a dream,” it’s no wonder that, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling, an estimated 2 million Americans are pathological gamblers and another 4 to 6 million people would be considered problem gamblers – those whose gambling affects their everyday lives.

In New York State, an Office of Addiction Services and Supports’ survey revealed that more than 700,000 adults struggle with a gambling problem. That’s 5 percent of the adult population.

“Just like an addiction to drugs or alcohol, they (problem gamblers) can’t stop,” said Tony Alisankus, BS, CASAC II SAP, who oversees a problem gambling treatment at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. "It’s a disease that changes the neurochemistry of the brain; similar to cocaine, amphetamines or opioids.”

Also known as compulsive gambling or gambling disorder, gambling addiction is an impulse-control illness. A compulsive gambler can’t control the impulse to gamble, despite the negative consequences for that person or his or her family.

Alisankus called it “the hidden disease” because people don’t want to address it.

“And it’s not just slot machines, horses or card games,” he said. “The compulsion can show up in stock trading, lottery tickets and online gambling.

Gambling disorder (the current terminology per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is defined as persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.

Some of the signs of gambling disorder are as follows:

-- Need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement;

-- Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop gambling;

-- Often gambles when feeling distressed or anxious;

-- Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling;

-- Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.

Gambling disorder can seriously affect a person’s personal well-being, employment situation and family life, Alisankus said. Fortunately, however, there is hope and help for the problem gambler.

“Like all addictions, gambling is a treatable disease,” said Alisankus, who has provided substance abuse counseling for more than 30 years and has recently attained certification in gambling disorders. “With treatment and follow-through, people can remain in remission.”

The program at GCASA offers various methods of evidence-based treatment, including Dialectal Behavior Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (skills-based therapies for patients to find a better way to think and cope) and Motivational Interviewing.

It also offers treatment for family members affected by the loved one’s disorder, referrals to Gambler’s Anonymous, GAMANON and not-for-profit credit/financial counseling.

Alisankus said the initial step for the problem gambler in either Genesee or Orleans County – or for someone who may be at risk of escalating his or her gambling activities – is to call GCASA at 585-343-1124 to set up an assessment appointment (those take place on Mondays at 4 p.m. in Batavia).

Should a potential patient have transportation issues or can’t meet at that time, procedures are in place for a special appointment to be made – either in Batavia or at the Albion clinic.

From there, Alisankus will use standardized criteria to assess the patient’s level of gambling disorder, which could vary from mild to moderate to severe to persistent to episodic.

The program at GCASA is free to all those seeking help.

Additional support is available through the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center in Buffalo, which has a working relationship with GCASA.

Disclosure: Story by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

January 1, 2020 - 8:28am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, Recovery WOW.


Amy Kabel, a Certified Peer Recovery Advocate at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, and boyfriend Thomas Claffey were among about 100 people who attended the Recovery WOW New Year's Eve party last night at the First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall in Batavia.

Participants brought in the new year with music, plenty of food, games and, of course, hats and noisemakers in an alcohol-free environment.


Brandon Fogg, seated left, and Quinn Pritchard provide the hats as a young family checks in at the Recovery WOW event.


Sue Gagne, center, Recovery WOW coordinator, had much to celebrate -- a new year, new decade and her birthday. Here she receives a birthday cupcake from Cheryl Netter, a member of the group's advisory committee, as DJ Scott Davis looks on.


Volunteers George Netter, left, and Gary Brown kept the food choices coming as they worked in the kitchen.

Photos by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

December 10, 2019 - 9:26pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, GOW opioid task force.


Press release:

Batavia native Christen Ferraro has been hired by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse as project coordinator of the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force.

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett announced the appointment of Ferraro, who received her bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences Interdisciplinary with a concentration in community and mental health from the University of Buffalo earlier this year.

A Batavia High School graduate, Ferraro said she recently moved back to Batavia from Buffalo and is excited to connect with task force stakeholders in the tri-county area.

“I missed the community and am thankful to be able to have a role in bringing agencies and people together to take on this epidemic,” Ferraro said. “Our goal is to continue the momentum that Allison (Parry-Gurak) has developed.”

Ferraro is replacing Parry-Gurak, who accepted the director of treatment position at GCASA’s Albion clinic.

As part of her college program, Ferraro served as an intern with the Genesee-Orleans Youth Bureau from August 2018 through May 2019, assisting with event planning, supervision, Youth Court and Youth Lead.

The GOW Opioid Task Force currently has more than 350 members from across the tri-county region.

Members represent various sectors of the community, including public health, mental health, human services, local government, substance use disorder treatment and recovery agencies, law enforcement, EMS, faith-based groups, health systems and medical practitioners, education, businesses, concerned individuals, families, and individuals in recovery.

The task force project coordinator oversees six “work groups” – access to care, community education, data, family & loved ones, law enforcement and Naloxone, and two subcommittees – hospital policies and faith-based – and provides periodic progress reports to a steering committee.

For more information about the GOW Task Force, go to www.gowopioidtaskforce.org.

Photo: Christen Ferraro, new project coordinator of the GOW Task Force, at her desk at GCASA in Batavia.

Disclosure: Story written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

December 3, 2019 - 10:13am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA.

k_hodgins_with_pr.jpgPress release:

Kathy Hodgins, of Medina, has accepted the new position of Chief Clinical Officer for the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

The appointment of Hodgins to the high-level supervisory post was announced by John Bennett, the agency’s executive director.

“We are excited about Kathy taking on this vitally important role at GCASA,” Bennett said. “She will work closely with all of the clinic directors, medical director and medical staff to ensure the care for patients is seamless across our systems.”

Under the direct supervision of the executive director, Hodgins, a 19-year employee at GCASA, will oversee the development and monitoring of the existing and future quality systems of the Clinical Services operation.

Hodgins has extensive experience in the substance abuse treatment field, beginning her career as a chemical dependency counselor at GCASA in 2002.

In 2006, she became the agency’s assistant director of forensics and satellite services, facilitating services to Orleans County Drug Court and Albion Correction Facility’s work release program, and three years later, moved up to the assistant director of treatment, managing daily outpatient treatment operations and supervision of clinical staff.

In 2012, Hodgins was promoted to director of treatment services in Orleans County, managing and supervising programs and staff at the outpatient center, and in 2018, she took on the dual role as senior service director in Genesee and Orleans counties. Her responsibilities expanded to include not only the outpatient services in both counties, but also management of the Opioid Treatment Program at GCASA’s Batavia campus.

A licensed social worker and credentialed alcohol and substance abuse counselor, Hodgins also is an adjunct instructor at Genesee Community College, where she implements lesson plans on the use, misuse and abuse of drugs and alcohol, and supports the Royal Employer Assistance Program as a counselor.

She received her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Buffalo after earning a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Brockport State College and an associate degree in Human Services from Genesee Community College.

Her civic involvement includes Leadership Orleans, Orleans Recovery Hope Begins Here and WNY Chemical Dependency Consortium.

Disclosure: Story written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

November 4, 2019 - 4:13pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, Recovery WOW.

Press release:

The executive director of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is aiming to have the agency’s new recovery recreation center on Clinton Street Road up and running by the end of the year.

“We’re hoping to be open sometime around Christmas or possibly New Year’s Eve,” John Bennett said earlier this week. “We have started minor renovations and we’re also looking for a name for the building.”

Bennett said he and his staff are excited about the potential of the Recovery WOW program’s new home – the former Bohn’s Restaurant at 5256 Clinton Street Road, just a stone’s throw from the intersection of Seven Springs Road.

GCASA closed on the purchase of the building last month and is gearing up for what Bennett called “a big kickoff” leading to consistent and effective programming to support those on their road to sobriety.

“The plan is to partner with other agencies and groups in the community to have events there and also to offer the large conference room for others to use,” said Bennett, adding that GCASA intends to hold an open house for nearby residents and business owners.

The floor plan, after conversion, will feature: offices for program staff and Peer Recovery Advocates along with a computer room; meeting room with a riser for live music; training/conference room to hold up to 40 people; exercise center; game room (pool, ping-pong, foosball, and video games); living room with large-screen TV; and a large commercial kitchen.

Bennett said the long-term plan is to move the Prevention Education Department and the Western New York Resource Center offices to the building.

“I think it would be a good fit to have Prevention there,” he said. “Plus, we have just run out of room at the main campus (430 E. Main St.).”

He said that renovations on the inside are ongoing and that volunteers will be enlisted to clean up the outside of the building. Springtime plans include putting in an outdoor basketball court in the parking area.

Currently, the Recovery WOW (With Out Walls) program, under the supervision of Sue Gagne, has a full schedule of events each month for those in recovery.

The recovery recreation center is being set up as a destination where those dealing with drug and alcohol use issues can interact through sober living activities.

For more information, like us on Facebook – Recovery WOW.

Disclosure: Story by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

October 25, 2019 - 7:03pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, Recovery WOW.


The Recovery WOW program at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse held a "Monster Mash" Halloween bash this evening at the Northgate Free Methodist Church south campus on Bank Street in Batavia. Posing in front of the "master of ceremonies" for the event are Trisha Allen, Maliyah Santos and Maliyah's mom, Madeline Rodriguez. Allen and Rodriguez are employed as Peer Recovery Advocates (Peers), assisting those in recovery.


This couple added some mystery to the festivities, which included food, refreshments (non-alcoholic, of course), games, costumes and wholesome fun.


No party is complete without the tunes. DJ Tymovez (Tyler Thomas) provided the sound.


Peers Amy Kabel, left; Nicole Anderson and Charlene Grimm provided service with a smile.


"Commando" Nick Volpe, another GCASA Peer, has the cauldron brewing in his bit of skulduggery.

Disclosure: Photos by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

October 19, 2019 - 2:10pm

The University at Buffalo’s Clinical Research Institute (CRIA) and the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) are sponsoring a free buprenorphine waiver training for clinical health care providers.

It will be held at GCASA in Batavia from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 16.

The buprenorphine waiver eight-hour training is offered in a half-and-half format (4.5 hrs. of in-person training followed by 3.5 hrs. of online training).

Light refreshments will be served.

Participants will receive CME credits.

Physicians (MDs, DOs) need to complete the half-and-half course to apply for the waiver. Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) are required to complete the standardized buprenorphine waiver 8-hour training as well as an additional 16 hours of online training as established by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).

Please contact us for further information.

Dr. Paul Updike 
Director of Addiction Medicine and Recovery Services, Catholic Health System

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc. 430 E Main Street, Batavia, NY 14020

Online registration for the workshop:   https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZBQF7P9

Directions:   https://goo.gl/maps/8KZecbdEKYP2

Questions: Please contact Dr. Christopher Barrick (716-829-3280)

October 18, 2019 - 8:13am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, OTP clinic, GCASA, methadone therapy.


For the past 13 months, the clinicians at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse have been treating area residents dealing with opioid use disorders at the Opioid Treatment Program facility at the agency’s main campus on East Main Street in Batavia.

The dispensation of liquid methadone at the OTP clinic has had a profound effect on hundreds of men and women in recovery since its Sept. 4, 2018 opening – a positive impact that even GCASA’s senior services director wouldn’t have been able to predict.

“The success of the program has exceeded my expectations,” said Kathy Hodgins, who oversees clinical services in Genesee and Orleans counties. “It has really served people in this area.”

Hodgins credited Assistant Director Jodi Calkins, who supervises a staff of nine (three clinicians, two RNs, three security and transportation personnel, and a secretary) at the office for leading a team that strives to help clients reclaim active and meaningful lives.

Calkins, who was hired by GCASA a year ago after 20 years in the field as a counselor and clinic director, said she and the staff are committed to those in recovery.

“I love my job and I love the patients,” she said. “We work with the whole spectrum – ones who are struggling, ones who are moving forward and those in between.”

She said methadone is given to the patients in liquid form, six days a week, with the dose taken in front of a GCASA professional. She said those who “are compliance in group and individual sessions, and test negative for opioids can earn the privilege” of being able to take home their dosage.

“Patients must submit urine screens to ensure accountability,” she added, noting that the clinic serves about 120 each week but can handle up to 150 or more. “Patients attend group three times a week, meet with counselors one-on-one once a week and also are assigned to a case manager.”

Methadone has been found to be useful at reducing opioid craving and withdrawal and blunting or blocking the effects of illicit opioids. It is offered in liquid, powder and wafer forms and is taken once a day.

Methadone is effective in higher doses, particularly for heroin users, helping them stay in treatment programs longer.

Hodgins said methadone is a “process that sometimes takes them months to get on a stable dose, with careful monitoring throughout.”

She said GCASA has administered suboxone for opioid treatment for quite some time, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

“Methadone is an alternative for people who don’t do well (with suboxone),” she said.

For Steve (name changed), a Genesee County resident in his early thirties, methadone therapy has enabled him to keep a full-time job as an assistant manager and given him renewed hope.

“If it wasn’t for Dr. (Matthew) Fernaays and (counselors) Sarah (Johnson) and Mandy (Moore), I don’t know where I’d be,” he said. “I’d probably be dead.”

Steve said he began methadone treatment about nine months ago, at first coming to the OTP clinic every day but now arriving four days a week.

“I’ve earned take-homes for being clean,” he said, mentioning that he has been sober since Jan. 21, 2019.

He said his downward spiral with opioids started when he was 16 when a doctor prescribed pain pills for a knee injury.

“I got hooked on them and this was before regulation,” he said. “I got up to 380 pills a month and that kept going and going for years. Eventually, the pills weren’t enough anymore and I turned to other drugs.”

Steve said he began suboxone treatment at GCASA about a year ago after he “lost his family.”

“My parents, my sister, my brother … no one would talk to me,” he said. “I had to find something to change my life.”

Unfortunately, he relapsed after being sober for six months, but chose to return to GCASA in a last-ditch effort to maintain his family ties.

He said he understands he may be on methadone for the rest of his life – although he hopes to wean off of it – but, either way, he’s proud of what he is accomplishing.

“I have my family back, I’m working, I have a new car and I’m feeling like a human again,” he exclaimed. “They saved my life – 100 percent.”

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett said stories such as Steve’s make it all worthwhile, and validate the need for extended services in Genesee County.

“We are thankful to the governor and OASAS (NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services) for investing in our region to assist us in providing a continuum of care for persons living our rural communities,” Bennett said. “We have had great support from our community, from families and civic leaders in the region, which is the key to a program like this being successful.”

Bennett noted that the OTP clinic is nearly at its capacity.

“The persons being served no longer have to travel to Erie or Monroe County to receive services,” he said. “Our staff is comprised of highly trained individuals who focus on welcoming patients into a relaxed, compassionate atmosphere which supports recovery from addiction.”

Methadone is dispensed daily to patients Monday through Saturday from 7-10:30 a.m. GCASA accepts most insurance. For more information about services at GCASA, including the OTP clinic, go to the agency’s website – www.gcasa.net.

Photo at top: Kathy Hodgins, GCASA Senior Services director, left, and Jodi Calkins, assistant director.

Disclosure: Story by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

October 17, 2019 - 10:58am

From SUNY Buffalo:

Buprenorphine Waiver Eligibility Training for Clinical Providers

The University at Buffalo’s Clinical Research Institute and the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) are sponsoring a free buprenorphine treatment implementation workshop for clinical health care providers.

It will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, at GCASA in Batavia.

This implementation workshop is intended to assist physicians (MDs, DOs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and physician assistants (PAs) who are currently prescribing, or are interested in prescribing buprenorphine, in their practice.

The workshop will offer a brief didactic component, followed an opportunity to ask questions of a current buprenorphine provider. Topics will include:

  • Assessment and Diagnosis

  • Induction

  • Concurrent drug use

  • Risk assessment/Failing patients

  • Pain management

  • Taper vs. ongoing maintenance

    Dr. Paul Updike 
    Director of Addiction Medicine and Recovery Services, Catholic Health System

    Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Inc., 430 E. Main St., Batavia

    Online registration for the workshop:   https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZBQF7P9

    Directions:   https://goo.gl/maps/8KZecbdEKYP2

    Questions: Please contact Dr. Christopher Barrick (716-829-3280)

October 10, 2019 - 1:55pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, GOW opioid task force.


Submitted photo and press release:

The Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force has been selected as the Outstanding Rural Health Program of the Year by the New York State Association for Rural Health.

The award was announced at the organization’s conference from Sept. 25-27 in Niagara Falls.

Nominated by Julie Gutowski, vice president of Clinical Operations and Services for Spectrum Health & Human Services, the task force was recognized for its efforts in developing an emergency department screening process used at local hospitals. It helps to identify people using opioids, then connects patients with a Peer Advocate or Recovery Coach in addition to a referral for treatment.

The NYSARH also mentioned the task force’s tri-county crisis line, which has resulted in a measurable decrease in drug overdose visits to local hospitals as well as opioid related deaths between 2017 and 2018.

“It is truly a great honor for the GOW Opioid Task Force to be recognized as the Outstanding Rural Health Program from the New York State Association for Rural Health,” said Allison Parry-Gurak, task force coordinator. “I am humbled every day by the amount of passion and dedication our tri-county region has shown to ending the opioid crisis for our communities.”

Parry-Gurak said the task force has “embraced a tri-county approach to our mission,” realizing that rural communities thrive when there is grassroots support.

“The task force is a wonderful example of the strength and impact rural communities can have when they collaborate to address public health concerns,” she added. “While we have had great success thus far, our work is not finished yet.

"We accept this award on behalf of our members and our community partners, but also on behalf of our community members that we have lost to the opioid crisis, those who are still fighting, and the family members and loved ones who have been impacted.”

The goal of the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force is to address the growing opioid crisis in the tri-county area. Formed in 2017, it currently has more than 350 members from across the tri-county region.

Members represent various sectors of the community, including: public health; mental health; human services; local government; substance use disorder treatment and recovery agencies; law enforcement; EMS; faith-based groups; health systems and medical practitioners; education; businesses; and concerned individuals, families and individuals in recovery.

There are six active work groups that meet regularly to address the needs of the community.

John Bennett, executive director of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, expressed his gratitude to the task force, which includes several GCASA staff members.

“Congratulations to Allison Parry-Gurak for her great work coordinating the task force and for Shannon Ford’s guidance in assisting her,” Bennett said. “And also to the many staff who sit on or chair a subcommittee of the task force.”

The mission of the New York State Association of Rural Health is to improve the health and well-being of rural New Yorkers and their communities. Functioning as a “voice for rural health,” the NYSARH is a statewide organization that advocates at the national and state levels on behalf of its membership.

Photo at top: The Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force was honored recently by the New York State Association for Rural Health as the Outstanding Rural Health Program of the Year. From left are Matthew A. Kuhlenbeck, president & CEO of Greater Rochester Health Foundation; Paul Pettit, director Genesee & Orleans Health Departments; Charlotte Crawford, Lake Plains Community Care Network; Nicole Anderson, GCASA; John Bennett, GCASA; Allison Parry-Gurak, GCASA; Shannon Ford, GCASA; Holli Gass, Spectrum Health & Human Services; Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, GCASA.​

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is a GCASA publicist.

September 4, 2019 - 1:50pm

Press release:

Family Supported Recovery Half-Day Training: A Free Workshop for Family Members and Friends of those with a Substance Use Disorder

Join us for this free, informative, inspiring and educational workshop that has been specifically created for all of those that love someone who is struggling with a substance use disorder.

Taking a strength-based and compassionate approach, this workshop has been designed to support all friends and family in learning how to be a more effective and influential partner in their loved ones ongoing battle with addiction and early recovery. It also respectfully and empathically empowers you to give equal or greater focus to your sense of wellness, satisfaction and health.

Whether you use this information to improve your family relationships and/or choose to apply it to your own recovery, you will walk away with new thoughts, perspectives and skills!

If you are a parent, sibling, spouse, grandparent, aunt, uncle, adult child or friend and you are affected by a loved one's active substance use disorder or simply want to know how to best support your loved one's recovery, then this unique skills based workshop is for you.

Class is taught by Keith Greer or Lori Drescher of the Recovery Coach University. Limited space. Reserve your seat.

When: Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Lake Plains Community Care Network 575 E. Main St., Batavia (Eastown Place, near Aldi, next to Family Dollar.)

The class is free. Registration is required by calling 585-345-6110. Please request by class name and date.

The class will be cancelled if less than 10 register.

This event is sponsored by the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse -- GCASA.

September 3, 2019 - 4:44pm

Press release:

A six-hour workshop will be offered in Batavia on Sept. 11 for people working with those with substance use disorder.

It is titled "Taking a Coach Approach -- A Conversation for Change" and is intended for recovery peer professionals, counselors and clinicians.

Participants will have the opportunity to engage in and practice using evidence-based coaching strategies and tools relevant to their work.

The International Coach Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Coming from a strength base and client-centered perspective, coaching honors the individual in recovery/family member as the expert in his/her own life and believes that every individual is creative, resourceful, whole and fundamentally brilliant about their own lives.

Coaching addresses the entire person, challenging them to expand their definition of recoverywhile focusing on the “gap” between the quality and scope of their recovery today and wherethey would like their recovery to be tomorrow.

This free class is taught by Keith Greer or Lori Drescher of the Recovery Coach University. Limited space. Reservation required.

It will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Lake Plains Community Care Network, 575 E. Main St., Batavia. (In Eastown Plaza, near Aldi, next to Family Dollar.)

To register, call 585-345-6110 and request by class name and date.

Some of the topics to be included in this workshop include:

  • The use of both powerful questions and empathic reflections;
  • Using both a coaching plan and coaching contract;

  • Being "in the inquiry" vs. being "in the answer";

  • Moving away from a focus on “helper as the expert” to the role of coach who facilitates an inquiry based and action oriented process viewing their client as a resource (vs. object);

  • Practice with several established coaching tools.

This class is sponsored by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse -- GCASA.

August 29, 2019 - 10:29am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, GOW opioid task force, OASAS.





The number of recovery centers in New York has grown significantly in recent years, and they are making a huge difference in the lives of those struggling with substance use disorders, according to a high-level official of the state’s Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day at Austin Park in Batavia, Robert Kent, chief counsel for OASAS, said the Batavia area will be well served by the opening of the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse’s recovery recreation center at the former Bohn’s Restaurant building on Clinton Street Road.

The Overdose Awareness Day event brought about 150 people together from Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming and Monroe counties in an effort to raise awareness and share information about substance use and options for those in recovery. About 20 agencies, including law enforcement, took part in the three-and-a-half-hour program.

“We know there’s value (in recovery centers) … we’re starting to see things go in the right direction, but we realized we’re nowhere near where we need to be,” Kent said. “The recovery center here (in Batavia will flourish as) the community connects with the people who need support.”

Kent, who has worked for OASAS since 2007, said there were only three such centers in the state prior to 2015 – in Brooklyn, Rochester and Delaware County.

“When the epidemic took off, we went on our own and added another dozen – and they work,” he said. “We’ll have around 30 by the end of 2019. Ultimately, they become more like community centers instead of recovery centers.”

Carlee Hulsizer, youth recovery program specialist with Youth Voices Matter New York, echoed Kent’s sentiments.

“We definitely need more recovery support,” she said. “Prevention, treatment and recovery … we need more (resources) to sustain them.”

Overdose Awareness Day organizers said that collaboration is the key to lifting people out of the cycle of substance use, treatment and relapse.

“We have three communities coming together to support those in recovery,” said event promoter Allison Parry-Gurak, who is project coordinator of the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force. “Because of this, we now have 400 members (of the task force) across the three counties.”

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett said he was “so proud of all the recovery warriors out here and I know we’re making a difference in our community right now.”

Bennett reported that GCASA is set to take ownership of the former restaurant next week and hopes that it will be open by Dec. 1.

“Maybe even by Thanksgiving so we can have Thanksgiving dinner,” he said. “That would be a great way to kick it off.”

The event drew many volunteers – most of them dressed in purple T-shirts printed with the hashtag # End Overdose. Their work as peers (Certified Recovery Peer Advocates) did not go unnoticed by several speakers, who thanked them for their commitment to standing up alongside those in recovery.

“Peers are the bomb,” said Lori Drescher of the Rochester-based Recovery Coach University. “These recovery coaches are trained and have certification, and are helping people find their way and keeping others in their recovery.”

Drescher then acknowledged all of the peers in the crowd and asked them to come up front where she was speaking.

Among the agencies represented at the event were the YWCA of Genesee County, Wyoming County Mental Health Department, Rochester Regional Health, Genesee County Health Department, Villa of Hope, Missing Angels, (Town of) Gates to Recovery, Horizon, Orleans Recovery, GCASA, The Bridge, VA WNY Health Care, Spectrum Health & Human Services, New York State Police, Gates Police Department, City of Batavia Police Department and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

Live music was provided by the band, Groove.

Disclosure: Story by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

Photos – from top: Scott Davis, left, and Larry Catoe Jr., both in recovery, let attendees of Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day know where to begin their quest for information about treatment and recovery; Robert Kent of OASAS spends a moment in the shade with Julie Gutowski, left, and Holli Gass of Spectrum; Gina Henry, GCASA prevention educator, treats the children at the kids’ booth; Lori Drescher of Recovery Coach University recognizes the recovery peers.

August 22, 2019 - 3:16pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA.

Press release:

The Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force invites the public to attend its Overdose Awareness Day activities from 4 to 7:30 p.m. next Wednesday (Aug. 28) at Austin Park on Jefferson Avenue in Batavia.

The event – “A Time to Remember, A Time to Act” – will feature keynote speakers Robert Kent, chief counsel for the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, and Lori Drescher and Keith Greer, partners in the Rochester-based Recovery Coach University.

“Overdose Awareness Day is a time where we can come together to raise awareness, gather information and support families and loved ones as they struggle with substance use disorders and also to celebrate those in recovery,” said Sue Gagne, recovery center coordinator for Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

Food vendors will be on hand, and the event also will include a kids’ zone, live music and free Narcan training.

For more information, go to www.gowopioidtaskforce.org.

The event is supported by a grant from Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

August 15, 2019 - 4:51pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, CARF International.

Press release:

CARF International announced that Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA) has been accredited for a period of three years for its Opioid Treatment Program. This is the first accreditation that the international accrediting body, CARF, has given to GCASA.

This accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that can be given to an organization and shows the organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process. It has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit its commitment to offering programs and services that are measurable, accountable, and of the highest quality. 

GCASA is a not-for-profit organization, providing substance use disorder treatment and prevention services in Genesee and Orleans counties for more than 40 years. The Opioid Treatment Program is licensed through NYS Office and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and can serve up to 150 patients.

CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process and continuous improvement services that center on enhancing the lives of the persons served.

Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and now known as CARF International, the accrediting body establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services. For more information about the accreditation process, please visit the CARF website at www.carf.org.

For additional information, contact Senior Services Director Kathy Hodgins at 585-343-1124.

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