Opioid epidemic spurs new LI substance-abuse center

Cut to heal: Nassau DA Madeline Singas (third from left) and a host of Northwell Health officials welcome the new Garden City Treatment Center.

In a move aimed at combating what it called “the opioid epidemic sweeping the country,” the Northwell Health system has opened the doors of a new Long Island substance-abuse treatment center.

The Garden City Treatment Center, located on Stewart Avenue in the Nassau County village, is managed by Zucker Hillside Hospital, which resides in Glen Oaks, just west of the Queens-Nassau border. But the focus of the 8,000-square-foot center, which officially opened this summer, is “addressing the opioid crisis here on Long Island,” according to Bruce Goldman, Zucker Hillside’s director of substance-abuse services.

“This beautiful new center is our way of helping with the problem,” Goldman said. “With a larger physical plant, we will be able to help more people who are struggling to put their lives back together.”

The Garden City Treatment Center replaces Zucker Hillside’s Mineola-based Community Treatment Center, which had been treating patients with substance-abuse disorders for more than three decades – and has recorded a 40 percent increase in patient volume over the past few years, according to Northwell Health.

Offering programs that “span the lifecycle” of substance-abuse issues – and a variety of specialized services tailored to the unique substance-abuse needs of adolescents, adults, family groups and senior citizens – the new facility boasts a 15-member clinical staff and is already treating 300 patients regularly, with room for plenty more.

A number of special guests, including former Zucker Hillside substance-abuse patients and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, welcomed the new center this week at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Jonathan Allen, a Garden City resident who fought opioid addition for more than 10 years before he was successfully treated at Zucker Hillside, noted that “with the proper support, I can tell you that there is hope,” while another former patient, Ronald Negron, said the hospital’s program “changed my life.”

“I’ve been clean for two years and I’m here today to urge anyone in need of help to come and ask for it,” Negron said at the ribbon-cutting event. “So many people struggle with addiction and are ashamed to seek help.

“I know it’s difficult to accept you have a disease, but your life is literally on the line.”

Those are the themes – and the types of success stories – that make programs like the Garden City Treatment Center so important, Singas noted.

“We are here to recognize that the opioid crisis is very real here on Long Island,” the Nassau DA said. “We must all work together to provide treatment so that people affected by this crisis can change their lives.

“We can’t arrest our way out of this crisis,” Singas added. “A center like this gives me so much hope for our community.”