To revive and rehabilitate — Caron Treatment Centers and Sun River Health

Featured image
Stephen Stills on stage at Cipriani 42nd Street speaking about his addiction during the 30th Annual Gala for Caron Treatment Centers.

What gets one into rehab?

A woman has an alcohol black out and wakes up jailed for a misdemeanor. Next to her another woman wakes up. “Where am I?” The second woman cries. “How did I get here?” “You were driving,” she was told, “and killed two people.” The woman who witnessed went from jail to a meeting. And hasn’t had a drink since.

She told me this story at the 30th Annual Gala for Caron Treatment Centers at Cipriani 42nd Street.

“However you get there, Stephen Stills told the room, “it’s still the same animal that you have to face.” Someone at my table fingered a shiny coin. Thirty years sober. Still grateful.

Kristen and Stephen Stills.

Kristen and Stephen Stills (singer songwriter for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Buffalo Springfield) were honored. The other honorees were Juliana Terian (president and chief executive officer of Rallye Motor Co., a member of the Caron New York Advisory Board and of the Founders Board of the Neil Lasher Music Fund) and the Neil Lasher Music Fund’s founder Jill Jordon.

Needless to say, that night the music was good. After all, it’s industry practically put a face on substance abuse. “I was dying in 1978,” Judy Collins said on camera. “Caron saved my life. When I got there, I was gone. The woman at intake took my suitcase, took away all my books. Then, she said to me, ‘Why don’t you let us drive.’ In a very grand way, a very serene way, a very active way, that’s what happened. I turned my life and my will over to the people who knew what to do with me. So, that’s why I’m here tonight.” She performed “Amazing Grace” acapella.

Gala co-chairs Molly Helfet and Susan Fromm.
Zac Clark and Todd Whitmer.
Olivia Terian and Juliana Terian.

Steven Still's Guitar for Auction
Stephen Still’s Guitar for Auction.

“We were young and successful, all excited about being rockstars,” Still remembered. “The booze flowed.” That felt like home. “My parents were professional alcoholics …. For some reason, we kept having to move. And we couldn’t tell anyone where we just came from. That meant that we had no story that we could tell the new kids at the new place about who we were. We all became really expert liars, fabulous of the first order, which is OK when you’re a kid but later in life, it can haunt you and is a symptom of our disease.

“When we got that first hit, we had no idea how long this was going to last, how big it was going to be — or not. All we knew was, we had a hit song. So, we threw a band together.

“It was readily apparent when the drugs started to show up. We got a little more jangled, a little less organized. Everyone thought it was excitement, but it was the jitters.” A few years ago, his wife got there first, then, got him to Caron.

Caron understands it’s a disease of an organ: the brain. In the past year, 49 million Americans have been diagnosed with substance abuse disorder. It’s growing exponentially, from one in 10 people to one in six. And 78% of those afflicted don’t seek treatment. They think they can handle it themselves.

Those who realized they couldn’t and sought treatment are a community. They are a network who are there for each other. And they filled this gala. “There was so much camaraderie in that room,” Juliana Terian told me, “you could feel the love and hope. People stay sober by helping others who struggle. There are so many people who work as volunteers in that community, so many who know and support each other were there that night.

“They say you have to give it away to keep it. It’s like love.”

L. to r.: Todd Whitmer and Joanne Curran Angel; Denis Mallon, Juliana Terian, and Robert Galanti.
Sue Anderson, John Weber, and Olivia Terian.
John Driscoll, Juliana Terian, Jill Jordon, and Todd Whitmer.
Standing: Dr. Norman Marcus,  Stephanie Boyd, Lee Fryd, Marc Rosen, and Mary Jeanne Curran Reynales. Seated: Dr. Andrew Boyd, Joanne Curran Angel, Juliana Terian, Pamela Muller, and Marilyn Evans.

They’re also giving it away at Sun River Health — affordable health care for those in need. The next night I was back in the Hamptons, kicking off the season at their cocktail party.

They came late to the Hamptons schedule, so they do it early: Thursday before Memorial Day. It’s not for day trippers. Community and health care leaders show up. Because, Sun River Healthcare clinics take care of those who take care of us: immigrants who clean our homes, care for our gardens, and our children. They pick the grapes for our rosé and the produce for our tables. They are our indispensables.

Sun River Health’s James Sinkoff.

Most don’t have health insurance. But they have Sun River. “There are no other locations in the East End for them to receive healthcare, other than emergency departments,” Deputy Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer for Sun River Health James Sinkoff told me. And if you think that an emergency room visit is free, think again. My own handyman (who has a greencarid) let his own condition fester for years until he ended up there. The bill just to be examined and prescribed medicine? $3,000. Even with his steady trade job, it took him two years to pay it off. But he did.

“I told you to go to Sun River!!” I said, exasperated. I think I was more upset than he was.

“We have 12 health centers in Suffolk County, serving over 70,000 individuals,” Sinkoff said. “Anyone below the poverty line can get a sliding scale fee of $15. It’s also a local option for those with health insurance, medicare and medicaid.” The quality of treatment? One of their doctors, Temur Chowdhury, has his own concierge practice ( and teaches at Stony Brook.

He can afford to live in the Hamptons. But, Sun River, like Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, is having trouble finding support staff who can.

“I can’t hire anyone,” Sinkoff bemoaned. “There’s no affordable housing in the Hamptons. And it’s too tough to travel two hours in and two hours out.” That’s what it takes with the “trade parade” of pick-up trucks and cars that clog 27 from Riverhead and Mid-Island during commute hours.

Carlos Ortiz, Deputy COO, Allison Dubios, COO, Nancy Stone, Serena Martin-Liguori, ED New Hour, Amanda Acevedo, Director of Services New Hour
Carlos Ortiz, Sun River Health Deputy COO; Allison Dubios, COO; Nancy Stone, Serena Martin-Liguori, Executive Director at New Hour; and Amanda Acevedo, Director of Services at New Hour.

“We are struggling to hire and retain licensed practical nurses, medical assistants, physicians, physicians assistants, dentist and mental health practitioners — every part of the healthcare delivery system that we provide,” he continued. “I need to house at least ten people. But, the whole healthcare ecosystem is having the same issues.”

With their income capped by federal regulations, Sun River can’t afford to raise salaries. But, they’re working with the community leaders to create lower cost places to live. “There are opportunities if we can get the political and developmental will,” Sinkoff continued. “We have some new leads with developers who are interested. But it’s a long process.”

And so, with this noble cause — good wine, good friends and tasty hors d’oeuvres — the summer season begins!

Allan Richman and Dr. Carmen Chinea.
Dr. Edna Kapenhas - Medical Director Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Stony Brook Southampton, , Anne Gomberg, Michael Gomberg
Dr. Edna Kapenhas, Medical Director Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Stony Brook Southampton, with Anne and Michael Gomberg.
John & Yulu Bouvier
John and Yulu Bouvier.
Bob Snyder Virginia O'niell Patty Kraus Joy Pak Nancy Stone George Kraus
Bob Snyder, Virginia O’Neill, Patty Kraus, Joy Pak, George Kraus, and Nancy Stone.
Dr. Sang Pak, SH Town Councilman Anthony Iasilli, SH Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni, and Hon Andrea Schiavoni.
Lynn Mara,Yubal Marquez- Fleites
Lynn Mara and Yubal Márquez Fleites.
Richard Pezzoli, Hon Helen Burgess, and Joy Pak.
Richard Pezzoli, Hon Helen Burgess, and Joy Pak.
Robin Brown, Julie Ratner, and Christina Mossaides Strassfield.
Mary Dennis Broidy, Christina Mossaides Strassfield, Gordon Herr, and friend.
CAO Stonybrook Southampton Hospital Emily Mastaler and her husband.
Rebecca Seawright, Louise Braver, and Nancy Stone.

Recent Posts