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Drug treatment program may open near Westchester Square

Bronx Times

Local officials are bracing for a fight over yet another drug treatment program coming to the Westchester Square area.

Community Board 10 has been notified that a health clinic serving mainly individuals with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries is planning to open at 1426 Ferris Place, just below the elevated subway stop at the Square.

The program, run by Access Community Health Center, is relocating from 1500 Pelham Parkway South.

The board is taking issue with the clinic also providing chemical addiction treatment for about 40 people with the same type of disabilities and injuries, said CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns. Access now runs that program at its Manhattan headquarters.

“I think – and I don’t know this yet for a fact – that the community might be willing to accept the medical program component of a program if they would just not bring in the substance abuse aspect of it,” said Kearns.

Kearns said, however, that he plans to oppose the program outright - clinic and all - because Westchester Square is already overburdened with social service programs. A number of similar types of programs have come and gone – or remained – over the past three decades or so near the Square area.

The decision is all the more difficult, he said, because Access is affiliated with the Association for the Help of Retarded Children (AHRC). That organization operates a group home and a program on Mayflower Avenue in Pelham Bay, in the board’s service area, and has been a good neighbor for the past 20 years, he said.

“The problem is the Westchester Square community is a community that is on the comeback,” said Kearns, noting a multi-million renovation of Owen Dolan Park and its communityt center, as well as local businesses recently forming a city Business Improvement District.

He is concerned that the population being treated for addiction may congregate in the Square.

“The last thing we need is 40 people walking around, caching cigarettes and asking for money to support their habit,” said Kearns.

The new associate director for the Access program, Victor Delgado, said the program for substance abuse issues will help many in the Bronx who currently have to travel to Manhattan for treatment.

Access will lease the space from AHRC, he said.

“AHRC’s clients are the ones who typically come to our clinic,” said Delgado. “We can see anybody, but we have a large amount of developmentally disabled folks who come to get medical care. And we’ll address any addiction issues, medication abuses, and things of that sort at the clinic as well.”

The clinic that treats chemical dependency will not prescribe substances such as methadone, he said. In addition to medical and dental care, the clinic will provide occupational, physical, and speech therapies, as well as podiatry, psychiatric services and screenings.

According to the letter that Access sent CB 10, the program will be the only one of its kind in the Bronx.

An Access representative is scheduled to appear before Board 10’s municipal service committee on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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