Greenbriar marks opening of new building in South Strabane

December 5, 2014
Mary Banaszak, Greenbriar’s chief executive officer, ponders an inspirational message in the center’s new detox facility. - Rick Shrum / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Mary Banaszak has seen and overseen a lot of growth at Greenbriar Treatment Center.

When she became chief executive officer in 1992, there was but one center, on Manor Drive in South Strabane Township. There are now 11 treating individuals with drug and alcohol addictions throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Patients weren’t as prevalent then. Last year, about 2,000 went through the Greenbriar system.

Friday afternoon, Banaszak presided over a ceremony celebrating another growth initiative – the grand opening of the detoxification building at Greenbriar’s headquarters facilities in South Strabane. She and other center officials led tours of the 8,000-square-foot, one-story structure that connects with the original building.

The impetus behind construction of this new facility, which opened to patients in mid-October, was to separate those in detox from those who had moved on to rehabilitation. Detox patients, some of whom have other health issues, generally need a quieter, more leisurely environment, and didn’t have that when mixed with the other group.

“It’s slower, more relaxed (in the detox unit),” Banaszak said. “People have said when they leave they are so grateful they started here. They felt they were better prepared to go to rehab.”

She was a night nurse when Greenbriar launched at this site in 1985. It is the headquarters for the system, which features seven outpatient and two halfway centers, and one rehab and now one detox facility.

Detox is a Y-shaped building that can accommodate 14 patients – seven rooms, 12 feet by 12 feet, with two beds, two closets, one nightstand and one bath apiece.

“Men and women are separated, but treated in the same building and in the same groups,” said Steve Roman, chief planning officer.

This additional space means Greenbriar can treat as many as 76 at this site. The original building can serve 62 patients.

You enter the detox facility in a spacious, fashionable lobby. Features include a group room, nursing station, coin laundry and offices, all painted in comforting colors. There are inspirational messages on the walls throughout both buildings.

“Mary designed everything. She’s very creative,” said Vanessa Sebetich, assistant director of community and corporate services.

Sweeney Shank Architects of Castle Shannon worked with Banaszak on the design, and Ray Sweeney of the architecture firm worked with the builders, New Belle Construction Inc. of Belle Vernon.

The polar vortex of last winter played havoc with New Belle’s handiwork, resulting in a three- to four-month delay in the start. A spring or summer 2014 opening had been forecast.

It’s open now, and a source of pride for the staff.

“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” Banaszak said.

She would prefer fewer patients and 100 percent success stories. That doesn’t happen, of course. But there are victories, and they are worthy of even greater celebrations than what transpired Friday afternoon. The CEO shared one.

“Every October, we get a bushel of apples and a flower arrangement from Patient 45,” she said, referring to a man from Greenbriar’s initial year.

It is an appreciative man, Mary Banaszak assured.

“He has been sober since 1985.”

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012. Previously, he was a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won numerous awards, including a Golden Quill, an O-R staff Golden Quill award, and four other writing awards during his 40 plus years working for daily newspapers. A lifelong Pittsburgher, he is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.

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