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Coram drug treatment center to be rebuilt after fire

Lauren Grady and Justin Pleasant, employees at the

Lauren Grady and Justin Pleasant, employees at the BEST drug treatment center, survey the damaged facility in Coram. Credit: James Carbone

Officials of a Coram drug treatment center said Monday they plan to rebuild after an early morning fire destroyed the year-old facility last week.

No one was inside the BEST outpatient substance abuse center at 3 a.m. Wednesday when flames engulfed the building on Middle Country Road, director Lauren Grady said. The center's staff of 10 has been providing services remotely since March 20 because of the coronavirus pandemic, she said.

“I showed up at 3:45 a.m. and watched it burn," Grady said in a telephone interview. “The community we serve is devastated. This is their home. … My staff is heartbroken.”

Suffolk County arson squad investigators and the Brookhaven Town fire marshal's office are investigating the fire, officials said. 

Grady said the fire appeared to have been set intentionally by someone using office supplies to spread the flames. 

She and other BEST officials visited the site Monday to clean up and inspect the property.

“We are all devastated," she said. "… But we are going to rebuild.”

BEST, which also has facilities in Deer Park and East Setauket, opened the Coram center last July, Grady said. The company plans to open a clinic in Sayville geared toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual clients, she said.

Replacing the Coram facility will cost "tens of thousands, if not $100,000," she said. 

The building, which serves 300 to 400 clients, was a total loss, Grady said, adding that rebuilding costs won't be covered by insurance because of the arson investigation. BEST plans to use its own funds to rebuild and hopes to complete reconstruction by August, she said.

BEST provides individual and group counseling, court-mandated treatment, domestic violence programs, medication, psychiatric evaluations and other services, according to the group's website. Clients come from local communities, Nassau County and New York City, Grady said, adding many clients struggle with addictions to opioids.

“They want to get their life back together," she said. "They want to live their best life, and we give them that opportunity.” 

Before the fire, BEST officials had been speaking with state health officials about plans to reopen their facilities, Grady said. The state website says outpatient mental health and substance abuse clinics are permitted to operate statewide as long as safety precautions and social distancing guidelines are followed.

“We’ve been awaiting official guidance from the state on reopening," Grady said. "Everybody is very anxious to get back to business as usual.”

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