By Sydney Kashiwagi

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Island will soon be getting its first residential addiction treatment facility exclusively for women. Here is more information about addiction treatment.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul paid a visit to Camelot on the grounds of Seaview Hospital on Wednesday to announce the state’s plan to invest $750,000 to develop a 25-bed residential facility for treatment centers for women suffering from addiction.

The facility is slated to open in the next two to three years once upgrades to the building are complete. The state’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services will then provide up to $750,000 annually to support the facility’s operations.

“What about the women? What about the fact that we lost 27 women this year on Staten Island,” Hochul said. ” … When this epidemic started, it was very much a male dominated phenomenon, and I’m all about women’s equality, and I want to have equality when it comes to women dying of drug overdoses. We have to get our arms around this right now.”

“It is astounding to know that on Staten Island there is no residential facility for women to go to,” Hochul continued.

After receiving numerous calls from women seeking help, Camelot’s CEO Luke Nasta said he decided to approach the commissioner of the state’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez, to talk to her about the need for a drug treatment facility exclusively for women on the Island.

Nasta said former Gov. Mario Cuomo had signed off on plans for a similar 25-bed treatment facility for women in the early 1990s, but the plans faded once George Pataki succeeded Cuomo.

“Government’s been negligent for decades,” Nasta said. “What started out as a ripple in the 60’s is now a tsunami that’s overtaken us because government has not embraced it, owned it and put its resources — intellectual, technological, and financial resources — into solving [drug use], and this is the outcome.”

LOCATION OF NEW FACILITY

Camelot operates several drug treatment facilities around the Island. The future women’s facility will be housed on the Seaview Hospital grounds in a separate building near the 45-bed intensive men’s residential facility.

In 2016, OASAS awarded $1 million to Camelot for a new community treatment facility for 35 treatment beds for men 18 and older. Nasta said the reintegration site is fully designed and will soon go out for bid.

The announcement of the new women’s treatment facility comes as the Island has been in the grips of a dire opioid crisis.

In 2017, the number of fatal opioid overdoses on Staten Island decreased, while the number of OD saves rose sharply.

Earlier this month, District Attorney Michael E. McMahon, along with Borough President James Oddo and NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill announced that there were 86 overdose fatalities in 2017 compared to the previous year — a reduction of 26 percent.

In 2016, there were 116 overdose deaths on Staten Island, according to data from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“When I get personal phone calls, that’s an indication to me just how widespread the problem is,” Nasta said.

D.A. EXPRESSES CONCERN

District Attorney McMahon also joined Wednesday’s announcement expressing frustration that it has taken the Island so long to build a women’s treatment residential treatment facility.

“It was inconceivable that at a time when Staten Islanders are overdosing at least once, if not twice a day, that we do not have a women’s residential facility here in our borough,” McMahon said. “… But that’s the past and the future begins today as we go forward to have this facility.”

Wednesday’s event came just days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed funding an advisory panel that will recommend whether or not recreational marijuana should be legalized New York.

If funded, the panel would conduct a study with state police and other agencies to examine legal pot’s potential impact on New York’s economy and its health and criminal justice system.

Camelot board member Angel DeRuvo took to the podium Wednesday to slam the current political climate she said was “entertaining the legalization of marijuana” in New York and New Jersey in an attempt to fill their budgetary gaps.

“Politicians must come up with more creative ways to fill the budgetary gaps,” DeRuvo said.