Residents, business owners, elected officials and Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations members packed North Hempstead Town Hall last Wednesday to discuss a Manhasset outpatient drug and alcohol treatment center.
Council President Richard Bentley said in the last few weeks he had received a number of phone calls and emails about Seafield Services Inc., which opened at 585 Plandome Road in the Plandome Medical Building in June 2016.
“It’s a couple of weeks into the issue, and I can’t tell you how many emails and voicemails I’ve received on the topic,” Bentley said. “I can tell you in general, of the 100 concerns I’ve heard, most are residents that are not necessarily concerned about the issue of there being a drug and alcohol counseling center in town but that something has certainly changed in the last three months of activity versus since its inception in 2016.”
Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, who was at the meeting alongside Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio, Munsey Park Mayor Frank DeMento, Plandome Heights Mayor Ken Riscica, Plandome Heights Trustee Gus Panopoulos, Plandome Manor Mayor Barbara Donno and Manhasset Board of Education Trustee Ann Marie Curd, said she has also been notified by Manhasset residents of potential activity outside the center before, during and after hours.
“I got a call the Friday before Easter and Passover from a concerned resident telling me she had seen some changes, and that call was followed by another call from the same street,” Kaplan said. “The following week, I received 12 emails and seven more phone calls.”
Seafield COO John Haley, a Southampton resident, also attended the meeting to answer questions and deal with rumors about the center, including the rumor that the clinic provides prescriptions, medications or methadone.
“I’ve heard rumors that it’s a methadone clinic — it’s not,” Bosworth said during the meeting. “I’ve heard they dispense medication — we were told they don’t. If, in fact, they are, it would be a violation of their lease.”
According to the website, the facility offers early recovery programs, relapse prevention, professional services, DWI services, individual counseling, family services, psychiatric evaluations, medication monitoring and services for significant others.
While medication is dispensed at other Seafield facilities, Haley said no prescriptions or medications are given in their facility, though it operates in a building with a number of psychologists and psychiatrists in separate offices.
Haley said the facility currently treats about 65 patients, all of whom come from the North Shore, including Manhasset, Port Washington and Roslyn.
Of the 65, Haley said about eight patients are at the center for court-mandated treatment, which could be from Child Protective Services, Family Court or drunken driving programs as well as drug problems.
“They’re your friends. They’re your neighbors,” Haley said. “They come from this community. I’ve heard this stuff about people coming in on trains. No one goes to an outpatient center on a bus or a train.”
Though rumors have spread that the facility has experienced an increase in police activity, Dan Flanagan, commanding officer of Nassau County’s 3rd Precinct, said since January 2017 only nine calls have been made to 585 Plandome Road — three unfounded alarm calls, three aided case calls for the neighboring physical therapy office, one animal call to rescue a cat in a drain and two aided case calls for Seafield Services Inc.
Though Flanagan said details of the calls were confidential, Haley said both calls were for ambulance services to take overly intoxicated patients to the hospital instead of allowing them to leave the facility on their own or with a family member.
“Those people who are impaired to the point of being dangerous, we agree not letting them walk out, but for somebody who is there for a DWI and blows a .03, they can walk out,” Haley said. “There are people walking out of the bar every Friday and Saturday night are 10 times beyond that, and no one is putting them in an Uber to make sure they get home safely.”
Manhasset resident Jared Beschel said he lives near the facility and is concerned for his children’s safety.
“I have kids who are not getting bused to school and have to walk by the clinic every day,” Beschel said. “I’m concerned, and I want to know what’s going in, what’s coming out and how it’s facilitated. I grew up in Queens, but I came here to get away from that.”
Beschel said his biggest concern was patients who are in court-mandated treatment at the facility and asked how much money Haley made from the state or federal government for each patient, and Haley said none.
Haley also said he has lost about $400,000 through the Manhasset facility, one of seven Seafield Services locations, since it opened in 2016.
Haley, who began working for Seafield more than 30 years ago, said the business is more than a job for him since he lost his father to alcoholism and his sister is celebrating 28 years of sobriety.
Haley’s 12-year-old son attends Southampton Intermediate School, which is close to an outpatient treatment center, and while he understands the concerns, he said they are unwarranted.
“About 400 yards from my child’s school is Alternatives Counseling Center. It’s been there for about 32 years, long before I had a child. There has never been an incident with any child at any one of my outpatients nor has there ever been an incident in Southampton with any child that walks past that facility. The fear-mongering, the stereotyping, the ‘these are all criminals’ talk — I’ve heard it all. These are your neighbors that are showing up at my door.”