An Open letter to Community Stakeholders
by Carolette Meadows
To All Concerned Community Stakeholders,
As per my conversation with Hon. Charley H. Fisher, I am submitting for your review, concerns over Evergreen Health Group‘s endeavor to build a stand-alone facility on Grider across from ECMC.
On 6/20/16, I conversed with Kim Lavare of EHG who tried to impress upon me that EHG was building a PCF (in order to take over a clinic that ECMC is phasing out but is in an acceptable location for EHG to operate within ECMC since it’s in the basement and near the morgue), a lab, and pharmacy not a needle exchange. She also stated they wanted the facility on Grider in order to provide services where individuals had already been receiving them.
The following key points were my rebuttal to Ms Lavare:
*The only clinic in the basement of ECMC is the HIV/AIDS clinic and although we don’t have a problem with them, it makes no sense to build a new stand-alone facility when EHG is currently building an addition on its existing S. Elmwood PCF which also has a lab as well as a pharmacy that delivers medication.
*It makes no sense to build a facility that will replicate services already provided by ECMC because it would eventually become an economic burden to ECMC.
*The argument of “continuity of care” is a moot point since these patient would be getting new doctors in a new facility. Therefore, there is no reason that they shouldn’t be absorbed into the S. Elmwood, already expanding, location. Furthermore, concern over location is disingenuous since the medicaid cab will take patients to any care facility within Erie County and the EHG employs a team of case workers who transport patients without medicaid cab service to appointments.
*Although needle exchange is a necessary evil, it is not an evil that the east side needs to bear. The east side is not a dumping ground for all of society’s ills and should not be treated as such. We know from watching how Belmont deceived the town of Wheatfield into accepting Sec.8 housing by presenting it as low-income housing for the elderly, that this project can be presented one way and ends up as something else. Therefore, we would want a community contract that barres needle exchange from our community if EHG wants to build!
*Those who gentrified the west side and downtown knew what was in the neighborhood when the gentrification began and if it’s no longer desirable, that’s not the east side’s problem. Needle exchange, if moved, should go where it’s needed. There are plenty of vacant buildings on South Park Ave. that can house such a program and they are the community that is impacted by IV drug use acquired diseases. Other locations could be South Bflo Mercy Hospital, any suitable location in W. Seneca or Hamburg, or ECMC is working on a future development project where they will build a PCF in the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood and that facility can house needle exchange.
*Lastly, people are trying to imply that the east side needs needle exchange due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic but the east side community’s primary disease vector is not contaminated needles but unprotected sex therefore, this is not our problem.
Unfortunately, residents of this city (especially POC) are rarely listened to or considered but this is an opportunity for us to flex our collective voices and let the political machines know that they depend on us to keep their jobs and re-elections will come soon enough! If they can succumb to the wealthy in the Allentown-Elmwood Districts, they can listen to us because not only do we pay taxes, but we vote. I look forward to working with many of you soon.
Meadows’ is a Community Activist. This is her 3rd column for the bullet.