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Center for Discovery expansion plans; High risk assessment clinic

By Fritz Mayer
July 2, 2013

The Center for Discovery is well known as one of the most important success stories in Sullivan County, and president and CEO Patrick Dollard said he intends to expand on that success in the coming years and beyond.

At a presentation at the center’s Michael Richie Big Barn Center in Hurleyville on June 27, Dollard explained the center’s plans to add a High Risk Assessment Center, which “will likely attract families from all over the world.” The new center will ultimately add 350 jobs to the area, and will involve an investment of $40 million. It is projected that, once it is open, the assessment center will save New York State $29 million annually on the cost of providing care.

In wide-ranging remarks about the past, present and future of the Center for Discovery, Dollard noted that when he took the helm of the organization some 30 years ago, there was a staff of 20. Now, the center employs 1,500 and more than 80% of them are Sullivan County residents.

In discussing the center’s position in the world of treating individuals with complex illnesses and conditions, Dollard noted that the center is working with organizations such as Harvard, M.I.T., Georgia Tech, Chapel Hill and others with the goal of creating “new models of care.”

He said, “The complexity of disorders and disease that we’re dealing with [is moving] these universities to us in a way that says ‘what you have been doing in these universities hasn’t been working. You’re still cranking out people with the same degrees that we have.’” A recurring theme of his remarks is that organizations that are in the field of treating very challenged individuals need to adjust to fill current and future needs.

One of the biggest challenges facing that field is autism. He said, “The disease is taking over the field of disability, going from prevalence of 1 in 10,000 (30 years ago) to one in 80 today; it has more prevalence than any disease in the history of mankind. It’s very complex, and very, very destructive to the family. We have work to do.”

He said diseases such as autism, coupled with the aging population of the country and world, are going to present challenges. He said he was examining a study of aging done by the ratings agency Standard & Poors, and the study said, “We’re going to have so many people and these complex diseases, and the world is coming to an end.” But, he added, “I think the transformation that you’ll hopefully see, or that we need to see, places like us need to demonstrate with evidence that our treatment methodologies work.”