The extent of Hurricane Sandy’s impact on parts of the East really started to hit home for me this morning when I learned that a New Jersey opiate treatment program that never closed operations during a parade of severe winter snowstorms in 2010 would not be open for business today.
The good news for methadone clients in the JSAS Healthcare, Inc. clinic in Asbury Park is that whenever news of an impending weather event hits, clinic staff takes action to order take-home methadone supplies for clients who visit the clinic daily for their dosing.
Still, JSAS Healthcare executive director Edward J. Higgins told me in a 2010 interview that up to that point in time, the agency never had been forced to close operations for an entire day, whether from a summer hurricane or a winter blizzard. Clearly, Hurricane Sandy is proving to be no ordinary event for residents and organizations in many Eastern states.
The JSAS webiste this morning announces that the agency wil be closed today, and it provides emergency phone numbers as well as a number to call related to questions about missed dosing of medication.
Addiction treatment programs that house their clients in residential or inpatient care face a whole different set of challenges from outpatient programs, of course. But again, contingency planning has paid off for many residential centers. For example, at Father Martin’s Ashley’s bayfront campus in Maryland, “We have full generator backup, so we can run for many days without power,” says Lisa Nickerson Bucklin, the center’s director of marketing. “And we have a backup system for our phones, so our on-site admissions department continues to take calls 24/7.”
In fact, Bucklin says that when an individual in active addiction becomes isolated from access to his/her drug of choice because of a weather event, that factor often will push the individual or his/her family to take the initial step to seek treatment.
If you’re located in an area directly affected by Sandy, how did your organization prepare for the storm? How are you faring now? Send me your comments, and watch for additional storm-related coverage on this site as more information about Sandy’s effects becomes available.