photo: Laura Bijnsdorp

PHILIPSBURG – The second floor of Turning Point, the sole medical drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation center on St. Maarten, was badly damaged by hurricane Irma. Due to this, the rehabilitation center’s outpatient programs such as assessments, counseling, and after-care sessions have been put on hold.

Pastor Vernon Illidge who is the executive director of Turning Point Foundation: “Irma also put heavy stress on our staff. Some employees had to leave the island and others had to deal with damage at home, which added to the workload of others.”

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By Laura Bijnsdorp

Court-mandated clients and voluntary-clients who follow the inpatient program reside at the facility. They have been dealing with regular flooding in their living quarters, due to water that leaks through the damaged second floor.

“It has definitely been harder to focus on treatment, especially due to the constant water coming in. But I see it as a learning experience,” says one voluntary client, that is seven months into his treatment.

Only place to turn to for addiction
“Marijuana, crack cocaine and alcohol are the three main addictions we find on St. Maarten”, Clinical Director Dr. Judith Arndell explains. In the last decade, we have seen an increase in drug-use especially amongst youth.

Most of the foundations’ inpatient clients follow the foundation’s full program, which lasts one year. Besides dealing with their specific addictions, they also offer workshops that teach clients life-skills such as time-management and work-skills such as carpentry.

“It has definitely been harder to focus on treatment”, says this voluntary client. Photo: Laura Bijnsdorp

Funding needed to make a bigger impact
The managers at Turning Point are confident they can resume their regular programs as soon as insurance and reconstruction has been dealt with. Yet, even before Irma, the foundation has expressed it’s need for increased subsidies. At the moment, the foundation has only received government subsidies to facilitate court-mandated clients.

Dylan Paul, Financial Manager: “Although we made due with the funding we receive at the moment, we do need funds to expand.” At the moment Turning Point can only properly cater to male clients over 18 years old.

Woman’s wing
Expansions that Turning Point would like to see include a functioning woman’s wing, a youth center that caters to minors with addiction, and proper buildings to separate voluntary clients and mandated clients.