Seafield Center officials are purchasing the St. Ursula Center in Blue Point for an undisclosed sum and turning it into a women’s-only inpatient alcohol and drug abuse treatment center, with plans to transform their Westhampton Beach location into an all-male facility.
Mark Epley, the CEO of Seafield Center Inc., said on Friday that he expects the Blue Point location at 186 Middle Road to open in May 2019, with the next 18 months or so to be used renovating the space and hiring staff. Upon completion, the 30,000-square-foot building in Blue Point will boast 76 beds. The Westhampton Beach location has 100 beds.
He declined to disclose the purchase price of the 8.3-acre property by his private corporation.
The St. Ursula Center had housed 40 retired Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, some of whom were elderly and infirm. According to their website, the order was forced to sell the facility due to economic difficulties, and is now searching for retirement homes and assisted living facilities to house its displaced Sisters. The property was originally bought by the Sisters in 1935 and dedicated as a retirement home and retreat center in 1983.
According to Mr. Epley, the Seafield Center has opted to separate its male and female patients as part of its upcoming expansion because studies have shown that separating the sexes can accelerate the healing process for women in particular.
“Many women have traumatic experiences and don’t feel comfortable opening up in front of men,” said Mr. Epley, the former mayor of Southampton Village, on Friday. “Having separate treatment will create a better atmosphere and higher success rates.”
The all-female nature of the new facility was part of the draw for the Ursuline Sisters. Sister Joanne Callahan, province leader for the nonprofit Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. province, said that mission alignment is what made the Sisters choose Seafield over other bids for the property. “We Ursuline Sisters work with women and children in particular, and the Seafield Center works with women to find transformation and healing,” she said on Monday.
Like Mr. Epley, she declined to disclose the sale price for the property.
Despite the additional 76 beds that the new center will provide, Mr. Epley said he still expects there to be a waiting list for the facility. The wait list now stands at around 40 most days. He explained that the demand for drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities continues to rise, pointing to the spreading opioid epidemic, in particular. “It’s a deadly situation,” Mr. Epley said.
As for Sister Callahan, she said she is not worried how her organization’s longtime neighbors will respond to the news that the property has been sold. “I haven’t seen much reaction yet, outside of a few emails,” she said. “Some will like it, some won’t. But they can look to the Westhampton Beach facility, which has been managed well for 32 years, and take some comfort from that.”
In a press release, she expressed hope for the Seafield Center’s future occupants. “We believe that the women who come here for rehabilitation will find serenity, peace and healing—as the Ursuline Sisters have since 1935.”
Representatives of the Seafield Center will host an informational meeting at the St. Ursula Center on Thursday, December 7, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., to discuss their future plans for the Blue Point location.