Wainstein wants hospital to open treatment facility

GREENFIELD — Precinct 5 Town Council candidate Robert Wainstein said Tuesday that an addiction recovery facility could go on North Street in Holy Trinity’s former convent, even though the hospital is about to buy the property and has other plans for it.

“Addiction is not a five-day recovery process,” said Wainstein. “We need more beds for people who need six months to a year of treatment. The building at 64 North St. could be used as a base for a residential program.”

The problem is that Baystate Franklin Medical Center, which is days from sealing the deal on the property, according to its spokeswoman Amy Swisher, plans to raze the two buildings there — the former school and convent — and eventually build a medical office building and provide parking for patients and visitors.

“That property has great potential beyond a parking lot,” said Wainstein.

The James Street resident said he happened to drive by the property recently and realized it would be the perfect spot for a treatment facility. He didn’t know at the time that the hospital was in negotiations and was close to finalizing a deal.

Baystate Franklin Medical Center is a private not-for-profit and may do whatever it wishes with the property, as long as it complies with town zoning and ordinances.

According to Wainstein, the former convent would be suitable for a residential treatment facility with 11,664 square feet of space.

“I hope a full exploration of a residential facility happens,” he said. “There is still plenty of room for parking cars.”

Wainstein said that because the hospital is an expert in in-patient treatment, and because addicts could be transferred from the hospital across the street to a treatment and recovery facility, the hospital should reconsider its use for the property.

“Opioid addiction is an urgent health problem,” said Wainstein. “Baystate Franklin has the expertise to run an inpatient and residential program.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for the community and for the mission of the hospital,” said Wainstein. “If feasible, I would like to see the town encourage reuse of the property for long-term addiction recovery.

Wainstein said it would be important for neighbors to be involved in the process.

Wainstein is running against local activist Penny Ricketts for the Precinct 5 seat. Voting is on Tuesday at Guiding Star Grange Hall, 401 Chapman St. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

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