Recovery Centers of America (RCA) has entered into an agreement to buy the Bancroft School in Haddonfield, N.J., a 19-acre property that previously served as a licensed facility for children and adults with disabilities. RCA also has another site planned in Blackwood, N.J., scheduled to open prior to the Haddonfield site.
“This is a state with a significant opiate and heroin issue and limited treatment availability, particularly in South Jersey,” Deni Carise, chief clinical officer of RCA, tells Behavioral Healthcare. “We want to help these communities address local alcohol and drug problems, and we will work with patients, their families, local law enforcement and all other interested parties to help curb the epidemic.”
In 2013, heroin-related overdoses alone caused 559 deaths in New Jersey. As a result, the state has designed a task force with Pennsylvania and New York, in addition to the statewide Addiction Task Force, created by Governor Chris Christie. Also, the county where the Bancroft School is located has its own Addiction Awareness Taskforce.
Carise says in the 15-mile radius around Haddonfield, each week, there are 522 Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other types of recovery support meetings.
In the meantime, RCA could face some pushback from neighbors. According to Philly.com, previous proposals for the site included a possible sale to the county as well as a sale to the Haddonfield school district, which was met with a great deal of contention. Neither deal materialized. City officials say under RCA's ownership, the facility will need at least a variance for zoning.
According to the Cherry Hill Courier Post, a grassroots group, Haddonfield United, called the use of the property for recovery care "highly inappropriate." They noted the property is in a residential neighborhood and near a high school and elementary school.
“We care about the communities we have selected and will be good neighbors,” Carise says.
She says RCA will enter into a series of transparent public meetings and forums to discuss in detail their intentions for the property, noting that the treatment center will be for voluntary admissions.
"Its patients attend treatment because they want to get help," she says.
The Haddonfield facility could treat about 300 clients. It was built in 1883.