Rural recovery outreach

Catholic Charities makes help accessible

REGION — A New York State grant awarded to Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange and Sullivan Counties has resulted in the formation of Center of Treatment Innovation (CTI), a targeted response to the opioid crisis in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. CTI’s mission is to provide accessible, affordable medical treatment and emotional support to those seeking to overcome alcohol and/or opioid addiction in rural areas underserved by medical and addiction services.

In a May 10 teleconference with CTI program director Dr. Sheriffa Gallwey, peer advocate Tina Wells-Tompkins, and chief advancement officer Kristin Jensen explained what this means for individuals suffering from addiction in our area.

Q: How does CTI meet the needs of individuals struggling with opioid addiction?

A: CTI goes into the community and identifies people currently underserved. In rural areas, anyone without a car or with limited access to one is at risk because they lack transportation essential to access medical treatment and a support network. CTI answers this need by sending peer advocates to meet with people in their own neighborhoods. Public libraries, church halls and community centers have all served as access points, but almost any common area can be used.

Often, a certified recovery peer advocate is the first point of treatment contact for an opioid abuser. Peers call on their own recovery experiences to connect with, inspire and support those struggling through addiction and early recovery phases of opioid dependency. With CTI’s holistic approach to substance-abuse treatment, the peer advocate acts as intermediary between the substance-dependent person and a multidisciplinary treatment approach that addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the substance abuser. That may mean attending to the dependent person’s immediate survival needs with medical care, dental care, housing, employment, financial and legal advice. Or it may be providing mental health support that includes cognitive behavioral therapy and community reinforcement and family therapy.

Q: What if there is no treatment facility nearby?

A: CTI is pioneering the use of telemedicine in addiction treatment. Isolated areas of Sullivan and Ulster counties with limited access to health care services will benefit from emerging tele-health technology that connects substance dependents with doctors specifically trained to deal with their health and wellness concerns, including the latest medication interventions. CTI is also partnering with Catskill Regional Medical Center to provide specialized care at all its sites. Minivan transport is available.

Q: Is all treatment confidential?

A: Yes, but minors will be treated only with parental consent.

Q: What does it cost?

A: Treatment is provided free of charge to those who can’t afford to pay. Those with insurance are asked to bill their insurers. In some cases, a sliding scale based on income level will apply.

Q: How does a substance abuser or his loved ones contact CTI?

A: CTI is available 24/7. During weekday business hours, call 845/794-8080, ext. 208. The after-hours and weekend hotline number is 845/467-0861. For some, help and support are as close as their own church. Because Catholic Charities operates under the aegis of the Archdiocese of New York, all parishes within its jurisdiction serve as CTI touchstones. [However,] CTI treats equally people of all faiths and denominations, seeking no religious concessions from non-Catholics.

For more information about Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange and Sullivan, and CTI, visit


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