Greenbriar breaks ground on detox center

Gary Weinstein, left, president and CEO of Washington Health System, and Mary Banaszak, CEO of Greenbriar Treatment Center, talk about the new construction after breaking ground for the detoxification building alongside the treatment center in South Strabane Township Wednesday. Photo:Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter

Annual increases in patients have spurred Greenbriar Treatment Center to increase its space.

“We’re hoping to start work in a couple of weeks,” said Mary Banaszak, chief executive officer, during a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday at the center’s headquarters in South Strabane Township.

A detoxification building will be erected outside the current structure along Manor Drive, where Greenbriar has treated adults dealing with alcohol or drug addiction since its founding in 1985. Washington Health System owns and operates Greenbriar’s 10 sites – soon to be 11.

The new facility will enable Greenbriar to offer treatment to 76 people at one time, up from 62, and to separate detox patients from those receiving inpatient rehabilitation.

“We have a waiting list,” Banaszak said, adding that she hopes the additional facility will mean “no one has to wait more than 72 hours” to be treated.

There is a mix of both populations in the existing building, which has 25,000 square feet on three floors. Expansion will free up beds in the original site to accommodate 62 residents, and 14 will be served in the detox facility.

“We knew it was critical to move (detox patients) to a separate unit,” said Judy Shannon, director of marketing for Greenbriar. “They need their own quiet space when in detox. They need time to rest and come back to where they want to be.”

New Belle Construction, Inc., of Belle Vernon, is building a 7,700-square-foot, ranch-style facility and a walkway connecting the two buildings. Excavation is expected to begin the first week of October.

Dean Clark, project manager from New Belle, said he is anticipating a March or April opening. Ray Sweeney, of Sweeney Shank Architects, LLC, of Castle Shannon, is the architect.

During a brief address before hoisting a ceremonial shovel, Banaszak credited a number of people for providing “a lot of cooperation” for their efforts on the expansion. Then she singled out Steve Roman, Greenbriar’s chief planning officer, for his diligence, calling it “his project.”

Gary Weinstein, chief executive officer of Washington Health System, was pleased and relieved that this project is lifting off. “We were almost ready to pull the trigger a year ago, but held off. We’re excited that it’s under way.”

He said “a lot of people don’t realize we’ve been involved with Greenbriar since 1985. This has become the preeminent alcohol-detox center in Western Pennsylvania.”

The South Strabane site is near enough to Interstate 70 to hear roaring 18-wheelers, but is tidy and rustic for those being treated. There is a sports court, for tennis or basketball, a walking trail and a ropes course that patients, and employees of other companies, can use for team building. There also is a horseshoe pit and an attractive gazebo near the trail.

In six to eight months, a second building will enhance the property.