Schumer tours St. Joe’s

Senator: More federal money needed to expand addiction treatment

From left, St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers Director of Veterans Services Sam Hall shows U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer around the Col. C. David Merkel, MD, Veterans Residence Thursday in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

SARANAC LAKE — U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer remarked on the need for growth and expansion of addiction recovery centers upon touring St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers.

On Thursday afternoon, the Democratic senator from New York toured the facility with St. Joseph’s CEO and President Bob Ross. Schumer visited with members of the executive team and employees who run the inpatient and veterans programs. Schumer expressed his admiration for the work being done.

“To have veterans who have been through very difficult situations put back on a path to a good, productive, happy life is one of the most important things anybody can do, so I really admire these folks,” Schumer said.

Schumer toured the main building and inpatient centers, and then met with staff and residents going through recovery in the center for military veterans who suffer from both addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He said what impressed him most was seeing “veterans who are so dedicated to helping other veterans.”

From left, St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers CEO-President Bob Ross, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Mobile Counselor Frank Landerway and Certified Peer Recovery Advocate James Borneman discuss a new St. Joesph’s mobile counseling van in Saranac Lake Thursday. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

Schumer met with James Borneman, who has recovered from addiction and is working as a certified peer recovery advocate as part of St. Joseph’s new 24/7 Open Access Center, in a building behind Adirondack Medical Center. The senator also met Frank Landerway, a mobile counselor who with his decked-out van can help people with mobile counseling or bring them to the Open Access Center.

“I’ve learned how you have to integrate everything — treatment, jobs and living — and how you do it in a community with people who have succeeded already, and who have been veterans and who have had addiction trouble and they’ve succeeded, is very inspiring to people who come here,” Schumer said.

He asked a resident in recovery what could be improved. Increased interaction with the community, the resident said.

Schumer said “getting more centers like this, expanding their capacity and having other replicate it” needs to be done in the next couple of years to decrease the severity of the opioid crisis.

“We’ve been getting more money to treat opioids,” he added. “Eighty percent of the money here is governmental money — most of it is federal — and this inspires me to try and get some more.”

Ross said Schumer had been attentive of the current issues the center faces and what is needed to allow more work to be done.

“We got a chance for a few minutes to talk to our leadership team up in the main building, and he was very attentive to the issues of workforce which we need support on,” Ross said, “very supportive of the notion that we need to expand the amount of time people can be in treatment and that insurance will pay for it, and the acknowledgement that federal dollars need to increase because the problem is increasing.”

Ross said he was glad Schumer was able to see residents who had recovered.

“We’re very pleased that he would take the time to see our facility, talk to our staff, talk to the residents, and encouraged by the fact that he recognizes both the importance of the problem but also the fact that people do recover, and that celebrating the success of recovery is important,” Ross said.


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