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Erie County Medical Center celebrated its spacious new second-floor addiction clinic on Main Street this week with a ribbon cutting, refreshments and an open house Friday.

The rooms and offices, in a refurbished old book bindery, are a dramatic improvement over the previous clinic operating from a basement space across the street since the late 1970s.

“People have worked though some tough times there,” said Joseph Cirillo, director of public relations and communications for ECMC.

The expanded downtown clinic, which opened at the end of July at 1285 Main, is one of three addiction clinics operated by the medical center. Patients come for group therapy, individual counseling sessions, psychiatry, self-help group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous and primary care checkups.

The extra space – 13,000 square feet instead of 10,000 – has been accommodating more people because of a merger: five staff moved from a Kaleida Buffalo General Hospital addiction clinic that had been at 1010 Main.

The expanded ECMC operation now has about 20 clinical staff members and went from serving 350 patients who came for 2,000 visits a month to 525 patients with 2,600 visits a month.

If needed, the clinic can take on more, said Mark Gunther, a psychologist and assistant vice president of behavioral health.

“The capacity is something that we’re looking at everyday,” he said. “If we can increase, we’re ready to increase.”

The expanded addiction clinic is part of a collaboration with Kaleida Health: ECMC is taking over behavioral health services. To that end, ECMC is in the midst of building a new expanded psychiatric emergency room and health center beside the Grider Street hospital, a $25 million project.

Funding for the new building and improvements like increased clinic space has been helped by a $15 million state grant designed to encourage efficiency and eliminate duplicate health services, said Richard C. Cleland, ECMC’s chief operating officer.

email: mkearns@buffnews.com