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Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance

January 5, 2022 - 11:08am

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Officials with the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports as well as local dignitaries are expected to participate in Thursday afternoon’s open house of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse’s new detoxification center at 424 East Main St.

The event, which is open to the public, is set for 2 to 6 p.m.  Pre-registration can be done by clicking on the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gcasa-detox-open-house-tickets-215846260977

All attendees will be expected to wear face masks and adhere to other guidelines related to COVID-19.

Guest speakers leading up to a ribbon cutting ceremony at 3:15 p.m. include Colleen Manse, addictions program specialist, and Stephanie Campbell, ombudsman project director, for OASAS; Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, and GCASA Executive Director John Bennett.

Tours of the facility will be conducted, and food and refreshments will be available at no charge.

Kathleen Hodgins, GCASA’s chief clinical officer, emphasized that the two-story, 20-bed facility further reinforces the agency’s mission of providing care at all levels of the substance use spectrum.

“Clients in detox will benefit from having a continuum of care starting with detox and including in-patient, residential and supportive living if they choose that specific pathway to recovery without having to go to another treatment facility,” Hodgins said, noting that having a detox center in Batavia will make it easier for those living in the GLOW Region.

“They will have all modalities of treatment available to them -- including peer services and case management.”

For many people, medically supervised detoxification from certain drugs and alcohol is crucial to beginning recovery, Hodgins added.

“Finding the strength to seek help isn’t always easy. We’re here to let those struggling with substance use disorder know that they’re not alone. Help is available, and it starts with our detox center admissions’ process,” she said.

The detox center is attached to the rear of the Atwater Community Residence. The opening date has yet to be determined.

Hodgins said the 8,600-square foot facility will be fully staffed by medical and substance use counseling professionals -- specially trained and certified to assist those who require short-term services.

Bennett said GCASA’s latest expansion is resulting in the creation of around 25 new jobs --mostly professional and living wages.

“The medical staff will consist of a medical director, a mid-level (supervisor) and several nurses,” he said. “There will also be a clinical supervisor and several counseling staff as well as med techs and support staff.”

As far as additional expansion, Bennett said GCASA’s Batavia campus, which also includes supporting living and childcare residences, is full. But the agency is in the midst of developing a  women’s and children’s 25-bed residential program in the Town of Albion.

Construction on the detox center began last January, with Javen Construction of Penfield as the general contractor. GCASA received a grant from OASAS and New York State to fund the project, which is estimated at $3.2 million.

August 13, 2021 - 8:07am

jessica_budzinack.jpgThe Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is making a difference in the lives of women dealing with substance use issues while trying to raise a family, according to Jessica Budzinack, the agency’s parent/family support and project specialist.

“During the past year, we have been able to connect with parents or family members that need individualized support, putting a primary focus on pregnant and post-natal women and women who have children that were exposed to substances in the womb,” Budzinack said.

“Parents in recovery or parents that struggle with addiction have different needs and different barriers that they need to overcome.”

The initiative is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of a financial assistance awarded totaling $500,000, said Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, GCASA’s director of Project Innovation and Expansion.

Mangino-Crandall said the specific program is funded by an HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (RCORP-NAS) grant.

The HRSA RCORP-NAS program places emphasis on pregnant women, mothers, and women of childbearing age who have a history of, or who are at risk for, substance use disorder or opioid use disorder, and their children, families, and caregivers.

At GCASA, Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies specifically supports pregnant and post-partum women with substance use disorder and their partners and children as well as anyone caring for a child exposed to substances in the womb.

Services include case management (including connections to treatment, healthcare coordination, and assistance with social determinants of health), parenting peer support, recovery peer support, and transportation and childcare assistance.

Budzinack said the program offers “coach-like peer support to parents and their families.”

“We work with them to overcome obstacles, such as navigating the Family Court system, helping them find extra support for their children and helping them … connect to different organizations or resources that they need to help them be successful parents,” she said. “We also connect them with our Prevention team, which offers active parenting classes and other forms of education.”

She noted that she also has been able to assist mothers with children in foster care.

“We do what we can to help during the process of trying to bring them home. We help them navigate in that area to achieve those goals,” she said.

Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies staff are committed to lifting mothers and children with self-esteem issues as well.

“Another thing that they face is stigma,” Budzinack said. “They kind of feel like the world is shaming them for making that decision. Our job is to make them feel comfortable and responsible, and educate them to the best of our ability. Education is a big thing.”

Mangino-Crandall said the project utilizes the research-based Positive Direction Model created by Dr. Davina Moss-King to help pregnant women prevent and mitigate the effects of substances taken during pregnancy on their babies.

“This includes properly taking prescription medication such as MAT (medically-assisted treatment) medications as well as illicit drugs, alcohol and misused prescription drugs,” she said. “Women who receive medically-assisted treatment have different needs, and there’s much to consider in those cases.”

Budzinack mentioned the high level of uncertainty and fear faced by pregnant women on MAT who have just given birth.

“They have so much to think through,” she said. “How does this affect my pregnancy? What’s going to happen after I have the baby? Just to have someone that they can talk to without judgment, to make sure they know the importance of her health and the health of that child.”

She said she worked with a woman last summer who was pregnant and had two daughters in temporary foster care.

“We helped her to meet the criteria for the Office of Children and Family Services to bring her children back home while she underwent medically-assisted treatment to maintain recovery,” she explained. “Through support of a case manager, participating in The Recovery Station (on Clinton Street Road) and taking advantage of active parenting classes, things are working out for her.”

Budzinack said the woman has made a concerted effort to get her children back and that commitment has paid off. Her baby is going to be a year old in a couple months and both of her older daughters are back home with their mother.

Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies is backed by a consortium that includes the following original partners: Oak Orchard Health, Lake Plains Community Care Network, and Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

More recent partners include Oak Orchard WIC (Women, Infants and Children), Genesee and Orleans County Mental Health Departments, United Memorial Medical Center, UMMC Moms Program and Orleans Recovery Hope Begins Here.

For more information or to make a referral, go to https://fs9.formsite.com/DCn0ab/yxjhrj9pyu/index.html or call Budzinack at 585-813-8583.

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for GCASA.

June 10, 2021 - 5:20pm

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While preserving the historical integrity of a stately home built 140 years ago, the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has advanced its mission to helping those in recovery by opening up five permanent housing apartments.

And members of the City of Batavia Historic Preservation Commission couldn’t be happier.

“It’s wonderful that they’ve made the effort to save the original detailing in the house -- the stained glass windows, the woodwork and the trim and the fireplaces,” City HPC President Sharon Burkel said. “To be able to bring it back to a useful part of the community and to maintain the history of the house is outstanding.”

Burkel and City HPC colleagues Connie Boyd and Caroline Hosek recently toured the home at 434 E. Main St., which is part of the GCASA campus along that stretch of the road. All three said they were thrilled with the renovations.

“I’m so impressed with the work that has been done, and especially pleased to see things that have been maintained that were original to the structure, such as the crown molding, the original mantles and the parquet floor. It’s just an incredible job,” Boyd said.

Hosek agreed, commending “the effort that has been put into bringing the building back to its original glory and providing such a valuable service to families who need the support.”

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett said the agency had its work cut out for it when it took on the project, which will provide low-income housing under the supervision of its Residential Program’s case managers. Three apartments are on the first floor and two are on the second floor.

“It was in very bad disrepair, really falling apart,” Bennett said. “The boards of the porch were literally falling off the ceiling and it was sagging. We’ve redone the inside in keeping with the historic nature of the building. We rebuilt the porch, put in new kitchens, restored the fireplace and had the house painted.”

Bennett said the goal was to be “good stewards” of the home.

The list of the general construction tasks is significant, including:

  • Scraping and repairing all plaster walls, painting walls and trim;
  • Replacing several kitchen cabinets and fixtures, and existing vinyl floors with new vinyl floor;
  • Replacing bathroom fixtures and vinyl floor, and deteriorated wood windows with double hung vinyl windows of the same size;
  • Refinishing wood floors, installing new carpet or vinyl as needed;
  • Repairing and maintaining plaster scroll work on ceilings, and smaller specialty and stained glass windows, which were reglazed and painted;
  • Repairing the porches, rebuilding them to maintain the historic trim and woodwork;
  • Repairing the exterior by power washing, scraping and painting with colors that match the existing color scheme.

According to the Architectural Heritage of Genesee County, the property apparently was bought in 1855 by Batavia brewer Eli H. Fish but (per county tax records) the house was built in 1880. The house was greatly increased in size when Charles Hough purchased the property from Fish’s estate.

For many years it was the home of his son, Arthur Hough, and his wife, Colleen. In 1957, it was willed to the Genesee Community Chest and, two years later, that organization sold it to Lewis Root. In 1964, the Batavia Industrial Center became the owner and it was used as an office/apartment complex.

GCASA purchased the home in May 2019.

Because of its distinctive architectural styles, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival, and its contribution to a neighborhood that is rich in historical significance, the house was designated an historic landmark on Dec. 6, 2000 by the City of Batavia Historic Preservation Commission.

Burkel, who has been involved with the City HPC since its inception in 1996, said a project such as this is at the heart of the board’s mission.

“This is what we’re all about it.,” she said. “We have designated 46 properties and we meet as a committee whenever we need to address something with the properties, such as giving them certificates of appropriateness for any work they want to do on the property.”

She credited GCASA for maintaining the architectural integrity of the entire block of homes, including its main office at 430 E. Main St. and other agency buildings.

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Photo at top: Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has restored 434 E. Main St., which is a City of Batavia historical landmark.

Photos at bottom: Nicole Davis, GCASA’s director of residential services, leads a tour for members of the City of Batavia Historic Preservation Commission, from left, Caroline Hosek, Sharon Burkel and Connie Boyd; The house, which has been divided into five apartments for permanent housing, features – among many other things -- original stained glass, cabinets and fireplace; Davis, Hosek, Burkel and Boyd on the front porch.

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for GCASA.

September 19, 2020 - 2:06pm

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Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse staff hosted a Recovery Games event today at the agency's Recovery Station social gathering place (formerly Bohn's Restaurant) on Clinton Street Road.

Activities included ladder ball (top photo) and cornhole, and everyone was treated to lunch.

In bottom photo, Sue Gagne, recovery center coordinator, assists a couple of attendees.

Photo by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

July 16, 2020 - 2:00pm

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only adversely affected business operations and the economy, it also has fueled a surge in the opioid crisis, placing added strain on those in substance use recovery who have been isolated by state-mandated stay-at-home orders.

John Bennett, executive director of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, drove home that point on Wednesday during the agency’s annual meeting via Zoom videoconferencing.

“Obviously, COVID-19 has changed how we do business and it has changed the landscape of where we were at a year ago,” Bennett said. “From 2017 to 2018, we saw a reduction in opioid overdoses across the country, and just last year alone there was a 5-percent reduction, according to the Centers for Disease Control.”

But this year, things are very different, he said, reporting that the overdose rate went up 18 percent from a year ago in March, 29 percent in April, and a 42 percent in May.

“So, overdoses are up 42 percent across the country, and I don’t think regionally that it’s any different. We’ve seen an increase in overdoses and overdose deaths,” he said.

Latest statistics were compiled by the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, a national surveillance system that provides near real-time suspected overdose data.

Despite the disheartening news, Bennett said that GCASA is steadfast in its mission to offer a wide spectrum of services to those in need.

“GCASA has been a regional leader in building new addiction services that normally aren’t in rural communities, and we continue to be committed to maintain our efforts to expand services so that folks in our regions and in our communities don’t have to travel outside the area,” he said.

Bennett, who took over as executive director in 2012, commended the board – “very committed and dedicated individuals who are kind and caring” – and praised his staff.

“To my staff who are on the call today, I’m super proud of all of you,” he said. “You’re always willing to pitch in and assist our community partners and advocate for people suffering from addiction.”

Outgoing Board President Brian Paris conducted the election of new board members and presented the new slate of officers.

Elected to their first three-year terms were as follows:

  • Jennifer Groff -- The director of fiscal operations and child support for Genesee County Department of Social Services, she has served on the GCASA Foundation board since 2018.
  • Stefano Napolitano -- The City of Batavia fire chief, he also serves on the Foundation board and his department participates in the Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative in conjunction with GCASA.
  • Jackie Gardner -- She is vice president of client services for Claims Recovery Financial Services.
  • Pattie Kepner -- She is the associate executive of quality assurance for the Arc of Genesee and Orleans, having worked in human services for more than 30 years.
  • Tim Batzel -- He is the business administrator at Alexander Central School, which contracts with GCASA for Prevention services.

Bennett thanked the outgoing board members for the six years of service. They are Paris, president; Shelley Falitico, Shawn Heubusch, Holli Nenni and Daniel Thurber.

The new slate of officers:

-- President, Virginia Taylor.

She holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education, which she received at the age of 50.  She is a recipient of the WNY Network for Women Leaders in Higher Education Bernice Poss Award, a Buffalo Business First 40 Under 40 Recognition Award, and Niagara County Community College Distinguished Alumni Award.

-- Vice President, Victoria Elsenheimer.

She is the executive assistant to the Vice President of Advancement, a position she has held for the past 12 years at Brockport State College. She joined the U.S. Army in 1989 and was enlisted in the Army Reserves for 17 years; honorably discharged as a Sergeant in 2006.

-- Secretary-treasurer, Frederick Rarick.

He is an attorney in Batavia; practicing law for 35 years in the representation of individuals charged with crimes. He is licensed to practice law in New York, California, and Washington, D.C. He was a past board member of the Genesee County Veterans’ Support Network.

Menzie, LeBaron Earn Scholarships

As previously announced, Jillian Menzie, of Bergen, and Ashlyn LeBaron, of Albion, received GCASA Foundation scholarships for 2020.

Each award was for $1,000.

Menzie is a 2020 graduate of Byron-Bergen Central School who plans to attend Brockport State College to pursue a nursing degree with a minor in Spanish.

In addition, she plans to study abroad as well as join the Army ROTC program. Throughout her high school career, she participated in many sports teams, music programs, and clubs. 

LeBaron is a 2020 graduate of Charles C. D’Amico High School in Albion and valedictorian of her class. She plans to attend either Cedarville University in Ohio or Roberts Wesleyan College to pursue a career in nursing.

She, too, participated in numerous extracurricular activities, including sports, band and orchestra.

Disclosure: Story written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

July 15, 2020 - 2:30pm

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse employees are keeping their collective fingers crossed as they look to resume activities at Recovery Station, the agency’s social gathering and recreation place in the former Bohn’s Restaurant building on Clinton Street Road.

“Beginning next Monday (July 20), and as long as COVID-19 cases remain low and there are no other restrictions put in place by New York State, the center will start allowing up to 10 community members at a time into the building for a variety of recovery activities,” said Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, director of Project Innovation and Expansion.

The public schedule for the reopening week is 10 a.m. to noon, 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. on Monday, Thursday and Friday, and 3-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday. The center will be closed on Wednesday.

Mangino-Crandall advised residents to check the Recovery WOW program’s Facebook page at facebook.com/recoverywow for updates or call (585) 815-5248.

Recovery Station Coordinator Sue Gagne said that the following health- and safety-related guidelines will be in force for all visitors:

-- Be expected to wear masks at all times while on the property;
-- Adhere to the 6-foot social distancing rule;
-- Have their temperature taken immediately upon entry to the center building;
-- Be asked a series of COVID-19 screening questions;
-- Be asked to use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands immediately upon entry.

“We will also begin to add more structured activities in the coming weeks,” Gagne said, noting that staff will be disinfecting furniture, equipment, table games and all rooms frequently throughout the day.

Currently, GCASA officials have allowed one-to-one sessions with Recovery Station peer advocates at the location, in addition to opening the center to staff and residents of the Atwater House residential facility.

Extra precautions at all GCASA buildings and offices at the Batavia and Albion campuses are being taken, said Executive Director John Bennett.

“We are going the extra mile when it comes to safety of our patients and staff,” Bennett said. “Face coverings must be worn by employees when they are walking in the common areas, when working with patients and even when they are alone just in case they happen to meet someone. Whenever there are two or more people in a room, a mask is advised to keep each other safe.”

Elizabeth Riter, director of Corporate Compliance and Quality Assurance, said that in addition to wearing masks, all staff members are required to attest to having taken their temperatures and are asked to complete a standard Covid health screening as they enter each facility.

“Similar to the Recovery Station, the Batavia and Albion Outpatient Clinics are promoting good health practices as we welcome patients back on the grounds for face-to-face services,” she said.

Riter added that masks are provided to any staff or patients who may not have one or forget to bring theirs, and that temperatures of all patients who enter are taken immediately and they are asked to sanitize their hands.

“Unfortunately, friends and family who are not scheduled to be seen will have to wait outside in order to minimize contact in the waiting areas,” she advised. “All offices and common areas have been modified to promote socials distancing, while enhanced cleaning schedules have been instituted in all facilities.”

The same stringent standards apply to the agency’s residential programs, Riter said, adding that new admissions coming from medical facilities have essentially been quarantined and screened before being placed into GCASA’s program.

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Disclosure: Story is written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

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