Access: no chemical dependency counseling near Square

What they meant to say was…

Access Community Health Center’s new clinic near Westchester Square will NOT be offering any substance abuse counseling, it’s CEO told a Community Board 10 committee hearing Feb. 19.

The controversy started when an Access employee sent a letter to the board stating that they DID plan substance abuse counseling at their new facility at 1426 Ferris Place when it opened.

The employee later confirmed that in a phone interview, saying the counseling program at its Manhattan headquarters would also be offered in the Bronx.

But, Access CEO Debra Sorkin backed away from the letter and earlier statement at the Feb. 19 meeting of Board 10’s Health and Human Services Committee.

She called it a misunderstanding, since her group cannot dispense medicine of any kind, and only offers such counseling in Manhattan.

Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns found out about the change shortly before the Feb. 19 meeting, he said.

“Given the number of providers of that nature already in the Westchester Square area, the board was gratified to learn that Access would not be operating those types of services in the Westchester Square area for the time being,” said Kearns. “They said they may consider it in the future, and if they consider it in the future, it certainly will be another point of discussion.”

In response to a question at the Feb. 19 meeting, Sorkin did not rule out the possibility of some sort of counseling service at the new clinic.

Her clarification pleased Westchester Square Business Improvement District chairman John Bonizio. He said that other than the chemical dependency component, which concerned building landlord Simone Development, there was no real problem with the facility.

“I think that they understand the concerns of the community,” said Bonizio. “Conversations have been had with the landlord, who is opposed to any kind of drug program in there. “

He said there is a question about whether a drug program instituted by Access would be a violation of the main lease between the nonprofit social service agency AHRC and Simone Development.

It should be a good location to operate a clinic of that nature, said Bonizio, because it is away from the retail hub in the Square. He also said that AHRC enjoys a good reputation in the community.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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