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White Plains detox patients won't hurt anyone, expert says
Amid the public outcry against a proposal to establish a drug and alcohol detox center in White Plains, a substance abuse expert in Westchester County is asking why would-be neighbors of the facility can’t be more compassionate and accepting.
“How can they see this as something bad, as something wrong?” asked Joan Bonsignore, executive director of the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence/Westchester, a nonprofit organization in White Plains. “Why are we so afraid of someone who needs help?”
Bonsignore made her comments as residents of DeKalb Ave. and surrounding neighborhoods vowed to pack White Plains City Hall on Monday night at 7:30, when the Common Council conducts a public hearing on the proposal.
Florida-based Sunrise Detox has proposed converting an old nursing home at 37 DeKalb Ave. into a 33-bed facility for patients seeking to quit drugs and alcohol. Residents have argued that patients in the facility are liable to commit crimes and will come into close contact with schoolchildren waiting at bus stops nearby.
Bonsignore said the critics don’t understand that the center will attract paying clients who are wealthy enough to have insurance that pays for private and semiprivate rooms. Sunrise Detox patients won’t be walking around the neighborhood, either, she said. They’ll enter the facility, stay inside every day for around five days and leave.
“They [residents] are looking at this as a methadone center,” Bonsignore said, referring to facilities where heroin addicts periodically receive a substitute drug that helps them kick their habits. “It’s not. It’s inpatient, upscale. Their perception isn’t reality.”