Brien Center's decay undermines good work

To the editor:

A recent letter calling for the Brien Center to "spruce up" is long overdue.

I have the honor and privilege to work in its structured outpatient addiction program. Trying to stem the tide of drug overdoses and alcohol-related deaths by providing education and treatment to community members is a rewarding profession and personal cause.

However, these efforts are especially thwarted when we are sitting in a group room with walls that are dirty, stained, cracked and chipped; sitting in mismatched chairs like someone's cast-off furniture; with rugs so stained and dirty you don't want to sit on the floor. It took over four years to get a new floor to replace the stained and ripped carpeting in the dining area and new blinds to replace those that were broken and missing in the group room.

We have duct tape on the carpets in our two offices to prevent clients and staff from tripping on the rips. The rugs in our two offices are just as bad as those in the group room as are our walls and furniture; the blood stains are still present on one of the office rugs from a recent trip and fall. A classic study done in 1956 by Maslow & Mintz demonstrated that the counseling process is enhanced when clients have a positive perception of their treatment environment.

Because we are located in a state-owned building and rent the space we are told we cannot have new carpets. The term "slum lord" often comes to mind. Why funds cane be allocated to paint and nicely furnish the administration offices in the building the Brien Center owns but cannot be allocated for the rooms that house the newly recovering alcoholic and addict is not only unfortunate, but also unconscionable.


Brien Center CEO, M. Christine MacBeth, in an August 31, 2014 "Special to The Eagle" wrote that "within the recently renovated, cheerful interior of one of the buildings in our downtown campus on Fenn St., freshly painted walls set the stage for transformative work on a human scale — the kind that brings hope and recovery to thousands of Berkshire County residents each year. Here, professionals coordinate care for people of all ages who suffer from behavioral health disorders of many kinds, to provide evidence–based treatment and services that literally change lives for the better."

Please note: this is an administration building with no client activities!

Yes, "sprucing up" is indeed long overdue not only aesthetically, but to enhance the treatment of the people we serve.

Candace Docimo-Mahony Lee