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New drug treatment beds opening in Rochester

Brett Dahlberg
Helio Health staff survey the new inpatient detox beds opening in the organization's University Avenue building.

Officials from state and local government and drug treatment agencies announced the imminent opening of a new wing of addiction treatment beds at Helio Health on Wednesday.

The new beds are for inpatient drug detox. They open almost a year after a WXXI report found that a shortage of inpatient detox beds locally was complicating the fight against a surge in opioid-overdose deaths.

Now, Helio Health is opening 15 new beds, in addition to the 25 it already runs. These are the only inpatient detox beds in Monroe County.

“I think that’s wonderful,” said Yana Khashper, CEO of ROCovery Fitness, a group that helps people stay in recovery from addiction by staying physically active. “This is a much, much needed resource -- something that we can’t do without.”

Still, even leaders at Helio said it’s unclear whether the new total of 40 beds will be enough to meet the local need.

“It’s kind of one of those things where, until you build the capacity and see how it affects the community, it’s hard to tell sometimes,” said Jeremy Klemanski, the organization’s president and CEO.

And both Khashper and Helio staff emphasized that the Rochester area is rich in recovery resources beyond inpatient detox beds, which they say are only one element of a broad spectrum of treatment options.

“I don’t want people to lose sight of what we do have,” Khashper said, “because then the message becomes, if you can’t get a bed, it’s hopeless. And it is not hopeless.”


Credit Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News
Most of the new inpatient detox beds opening at Helio Health are single-occupancy, containing a bed, dresser, television, and desk and chair. "We want to make it feel homey," says Sabrina Howland, who runs inpatient services here.

Sabrina Howland, Helio’s director of inpatient services in Rochester, echoed comments that Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Michael Mendoza made in October, saying that the first stop for people seeking a recovery program should not be an inpatient bed, but rather an evaluation to determine the best course of treatment.

“A lot of individuals think that detox beds are the answer to all,” Howland said, but that’s not always the case. “Some individuals are most appropriate to go to outpatient first, or inpatient but not detox.”

But the new wing of inpatient detox beds is a step in the right direction to help meet the needs of people who have a short window of receptiveness to treatment, Khashper and Klemanski said.

“For me, I needed inpatient,” said Khashper. “Some people need that environment. Otherwise you get pulled back.”

“And with the presence of fentanyl today, sometimes every use (of drugs) brings a risk of death,” said Klemanski.

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