Over 100 state partners, local providers, and community stakeholders who collaborate to address the opioid crisis celebrated the grand opening of the Pelletier Wellness Center in Bridgeport on Thursday Sept. 19, an event that coincided with National Recovery Awareness Month. Ninety-eight percent of Liberation Programs’ 750 clients in Bridgeport participate in Medication Assisted Recovery related to opioids. In Connecticut, there are at least two opioid-related overdose deaths each day.
The Pelletier Wellness Center, named for Liberation Programs board member Sallyan Pelletier and her husband Steve Pelletier, is a state-of-the-art outpatient treatment center providing Medication-Assisted Recovery, individual and family therapeutic counseling, and support services to people seeking treatment for substance use and mental health issues in Fairfield County. The couple supports the holistic approach to health that the Pelletier Wellness Center will provide for our community.
“Addiction kills,” said Sallyan, addressing the crowd. “My husband and I, like so many others, have been affected by this horrible disease. Liberation Programs has been on the front lines, combating opioids and fentanyl through medication maintenance and therapy, supporting folks from our community long before heroin was a headline story. I want to thank John Hamilton, the CEO of Liberation Programs, and the amazing staff. We have so many well-seasoned and compassionate, enthusiastic team members supporting our clients here in this community and throughout Fairfield County.”
Nancy Navaretta, Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) said, “I’m here representing the Commissioner, who is so pleased to see expansion and innovation, like the van. Liberation has always been ahead of the curve, and we (DMHAS) are happy to support them. They are a lead addiction services provider and now a leader in the behavioral health services continuum of care. I believe that our clients and people that we serve deserve beautiful buildings like this, just like the private sector. This is a fabulous model for the state.”
Guests were given tours of the center at 399 Mill Hill Avenue that offers on-site primary medical and dental health services through a partnership with Southwest Community Health Center. Visitors, including Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, had the opportunity to try auricular detox (ear acupuncture), a protocol to treat behavioral health, addiction, and emotional trauma. A number of Liberation Programs’ staff members are trained as Auricular Detox (acupuncture) Specialists, thanks to a grant from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to the Connecticut Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS).
“Your physical plant, process and caring culture are all married in a way to offer dignity, support and care,” said Rockman Ferrigno, MD, Chair, Emergency Medicine, and Associate Chief Medical Officer at Bridgeport Hospital. “Visiting with your team has been a lasting highlight for me. I was energized, educated and humbled.”
Liberation Programs’ President and CEO John Hamilton said, “We have this beautiful building, but it pales in comparison to the staff, our dedicated, compassionate staff, that every day work in the trenches, that treat individuals with dignity and respect. That’s what makes the difference.”
Guests were excited to see Liberation Programs’ new Mobile Wellness van, which sports the organization’s phone number, 1-855-LIB-PROG, and is brightly appointed with “Peace, Love, and Liberation” and “Meeting People Where They Are Since 1971” in vintage lettering, produced by A to Z Signs. The van will be used to expand access to Medication Assisted Recovery treatment, as well as support loved ones and the community at large through lifesaving connections. The van made its first official public appearance Friday, Sept. 20, at the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) first annual Stomp Out Stigma walk at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, and will be stationed at the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery’s (CCAR) 20th Annual Recovery Walk in Hartford, Saturday, September 21 at Bushnell Park. Before the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, Sallyan shared, “My husband and I are not just putting our names behind this building. We are putting our hearts, our minds, and our prayers behind all those clients who use our programs.”
Sallyan is former Managing Director, Global Head of Marketing Execution, and Americas Region Head of Marketing for UBS, and her husband, Steve, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Businesses for Prudential. Sallyan Pelletier served on the board of Liberation Programs since 2014, and as the agency’s Board Chair from 2015-2016, contributing her expertise in business and global marketing to raise awareness about lives unnecessarily lost to overdose and the evidence-based treatment Liberation Programs provides.
The event featured catering by the legendary Bridgeport restaurant, Ralph-n-Rich’s, and guests enjoyed reminiscing with co-owner Ralph Silano and his wife Sarah.