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Dutchess County Expanding Substance Use and Mental Health Support Services
Opioid Settlement Dollars to Fund Innovative New Programs & Facilities

Published: 9/6/2022

Poughkeepsie, NY … Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is directing $1.95 million received as the first installment of the Opioid Manufacturers Settlement to launch several new opioid use and mental health treatment, recovery and prevention efforts including: 

•    Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) – an evidence-based program of street outreach 
designed to reach individuals with unmet behavioral health needs who have not connected with traditional health and human services and often wind up in a criminal justice system cycle through a variety of violations such as drug use, public intoxication, or nuisance calls. Case managers “without walls” will work connect with individuals “where they are” to build rapport and trust to help them begin to get the services they need, such as emergency shelter, housing, treatment, employment, etc.

•    Empowerment Center – a walk-in, accessible center where individuals at any stage of their recovery journey can go for support from Recovery Coaches and others with lived experience.   

•    St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center – residential treatment services provided over an extended period of six to nine months, to help address the critical need of long-term treatment services.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Dutchess County remains a leader in the state and nation with our inventive services and programs to assist those in the grip of substance use and behavioral health issues. We will continue to innovate to serve those in Dutchess County in the throes of addiction and mental health struggles, using these funds – paid by three opioid manufacturers whose products caused immense hard to so many – to help those struggling to find their path toward recovery. We thank our community partners and the members of the Dutchess County Legislature for their support, helping Dutchess County continue its life-saving work.”

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)
Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) is launching the LEAD initiative, an evidence-based program designed to reach people with complex, unmet behavioral health needs who have not sought help and in turn are at risk for law violations and repeated ticketing or arrest for low-level offenses. Many of these individuals are homeless and have been, for a variety of reasons, reluctant to utilize traditional health and human services such as emergency shelter housing, addiction treatment, temporary benefit assistance or other services.   

The LEAD program works in conjunction with law enforcement.  Law enforcement officers participate in additional mental health and harm reduction training and have the discretion at point of contact to divert individuals to the LEAD program, rather than arrest or ticket them.  A case manager will be assigned to the individual, who will connect with the person where they are and work with them to develop an individual intervention plan, which could include assistance with identification, transitional and permanent housing, treatment, education, job training and placement, or childcare. Case managers will assist them in overcoming obstacles that may have prevented them from getting help previously – whether it was lack of access, financial constraints or behavioral health issues. Case managers will be assigned to a limited number of cases to be able to maintain continued contact and care follow-up -  helping each person to access support and resources as they are ready.

$343,000 in opioid settlement funds will be utilized for initial staffing and law enforcement training for the LEAD program. DBCH will partner with People USA, a peer-run, mental-health nonprofit, who will provide staffing for the LEAD program. Additionally, a newly approved Alternative Incarceration Worker position in DCBH will oversee the project.   

Other organizations initially involved in LEAD include: 

•    Dutchess County Public Defender’s Office;
•    Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office;
•    Dutchess County Probation;
•    City of Poughkeepsie Police Department;
•    Mental Health America of Dutchess County; as well as other
•    community provider agencies including Sun River Health and Hudson Valley Community Services; and grassroots organizations including Hope not Handcuffs.

Empowerment Center
Dutchess County DBCH has established an Empowerment Center to provide support for those battling opioid use and other substance use disorders. The Empowerment Center is a walk-in resource staffed by recovery coaches - individuals with lived experiences who offer a uniquely empathic and knowledgeable approach to helping their peers. The Empowerment Center is designed to provide support in a flexible way, without barriers such as paperwork or insurance requirements. It is a drop-in where individuals at any stage of their recovery can stop by for support and conversation with others who are also on their recovery journey. They provide individualized support, recovery and wellness planning, connection to local resources, harm reduction supplies and community building for those dealing with substance use disorder. The Empowerment Center is currently operating at DBCH’s 230 North Road campus and recovery coaches are available from 9am to 5m Monday through Friday.   

The Empowerment Center will soon relocate to a permanent location on Main Street in the City of Poughkeepsie near the train station, with opioid settlement funds being utilized to establish the new, easily accessible site.   The new site will offer extended hours as well as weekend availability, including support group meetings and educational forums.  People can go to the Empowerment Center as often as they need to for support, even if it is every day.  $107,000 in opioid settlement funds will be used for initial rent and start-up costs for the new location.

Treatment & Recovery Center Housing 
Dutchess County will utilize $1.5 million to create a multi-bed in-patient long term treatment center for individuals with substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health challenges in partnership with St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center.   Long-term treatment, approximately six to nine months, is not readily available in the region and this new facility will address this critical need.   

Recovery houses, like St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center, are safe, healthy, family-like, substance-free living environments that support individuals in recovery from addiction. Recovery housing reinforces a substance-free lifestyle with peer support and direct connections services that promote long-term recovery.

St. Joseph’s currently operates five other locations in upstate New York.  The new residential Treatment and Recovery Center will be located in the City of Poughkeepsie at the former Catharine Street Community Center property and is expected to open in late 2023. 

Jean-Marie Niebuhr, Deputy DBCH Commissioner and Director of Community Services, said, “These three new programs will support so many in Dutchess County and are the latest examples of Dutchess County’s commitment to the most vulnerable individuals in our community. Make no mistake: These initiatives will save lives and will make a lasting positive impact in Dutchess County for years to come.”

The $1.95 million is the first installment of opioid settlement dollars that Dutchess County anticipates receiving following settlement with the “Big Three” opioid manufactures - McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen – for those companies role in helping to fuel the national opioid epidemic.   Dutchess County may receive as much as $11.5 million in the coming years as part of the settlement.   

The Dutchess County Legislature voted unanimously to amend the county budget to utilize the $1.95 million to fund the LEAD program, Empowerment Center and St. Joseph’s Treatment and Recovery Center at their August board meeting last week.

These new initiatives are part of the Dutchess County’s ongoing efforts to provide a continuum of care with varied resources to help those dealing with substance use issues and/or mental health disorders.   Dutchess County has been a pioneer in mental health access, investing in critical resources including the 988 HELPLINE 24/7 mental health crisis line, the Stabilization Center as well as programs such as the Partial Hospital and Intensive Treatment Alternatives Program (ITAP), among others. Dutchess County has also recently partnered with Westchester Medical Center Health Network for the creation of a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at MidHudson Regional Hospital, with an investment of $3 million to add new inpatient behavioral health beds to the hospital.   

More information on mental health services in Dutchess County is available at: