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EIHAB Human Services of Tunkhannock is working to expand its services in Wyoming County.

Located on state Route 92 in what was previously St. Michaels School For Boys, EIHAB, according to its brochure, “provides a range of services to individuals with intellectual and development disabilities, helping them to achieve increased independence and an enhanced quality of life as productive members of the community.”

Among the programs and services provided by EIHAB include in-home and community habilitation case management; respite services; residential programs; community and group homes; mental health services; foster case; and family living.

But EIHAB has set its sights on doing even more.

Jeffrey M. Levy, vice-president of EIHAB Human Services in Pennsylvania, explained in an interview on Tuesday, April 4, that the organization has been working for the past several months to obtain certification from the state as well as the necessary funding to offer in-house drug and alcohol treatment programs to its clients.

Wyoming County Commissioner Ron Williams, who attend the presentation, said that he made the request to EIHAB because there are no services in Wyoming Council specifically available to adolescents suffering from drug or alcohol abuse.

Levy said that parents and relatives can only obtain professional treatment far outside Wyoming County for adolescents experiencing such problems. EIHAB is trying to change that by obtaining the licensing and money, providing adolescent treatment within the county.

Although EIHAB has obtained the necessary license to take in children experiencing drug and alcohol problems, Levy, is it still waiting for the required authorization from Pennsylvania, allowing it to obtain the funds necessary to run the program. Williams explained that Wyoming and Luzerne counties now provides money to EIHAB to pay for its existing programs. Once EIHAB obtains the authorization, it would be able to obtain money from Wyoming and Luzerne counties to pay for its drug and alcohol clients.

In many circumstances, a student’s health insurance will pay for his or her treatment at EIHAB. For students without insurance, state money administered by Luzerne and Wyoming counties is available to pay for their care.

Levy was uncertain exactly when the state will grant the authorization. But when it does, he said, EIHAB will start by taking in six clients. In three months, another six will be added, up to 30 adolescents.

Clients receiving treatment for drug and alcohol abuse will be 13 to 18 years old, Levy said.

The vice-president explained EIHAB will not perform detoxification on its clients. Instead, Levy said, adolescents needing to be detoxed will be taken to a medical facility such as Tyler Community Hospital. Once that occurs, the child can be referred to EIHAB through a variety of sources, such as the courts, family physician, or parents.

Many of the techniques EIHAB now uses on its existing clients will be employed for those needing treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. Clients are now referred to them through Wyoming and Luzerne counties via Juvenile Protection Services, Children and Youth, and the courts. These are troubled youths who need special care and treatment that EIHAB can provide.

EIHAB employes a reward system to encourage its clients to practice good behavior, and work within the system, Levy said. No one is forced to do anything - if a juvenile just wants to sit in his or her room, they are allowed to do. But clients who want to play video games, use the pool, the gym, or any of the other recreational facilities must earn the privilege to do so.

“We have a beautiful gym,” Levy said about some of the facilities available at EIHAB. “We have a weight room and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. We have a great fishing pond.”

EIHAB provides a life skills program to its clients who are challenged in certain areas, Levy said. It teaches basic skills that most people take for granted - such as how to use a microwave, and how to cook from a stove top, as well as pay one’s bills.

Clients attend school at EIHAB, taught by fully accredited personnel. Principal Dorothy Larson said that EIHAB’s teachers can teach classes at any public school in Pennsylvania.

The school offers a complete line of courses. One example cited by Larson is its consumer science class. One project the students work on is ‘Trout,’ she explained, in which the students start with trout eggs in the class.

The students watch and take care of the eggs until they hatch. They then keep an eye on the baby trout in a fish tank located in the classroom, encouraging them to grow.

Once the trout have reached a certain size, the Fish and Game Commission - which supplies the eggs and oversees the program - will release them into specific areas, she said.

A camera and video system is incorporated throughout the public areas, to monitor all juvenile activities, and see to their protection. Levy said EIHAB does not spy on its clients - there are no cameras in the dorm rooms, rest rooms, or other private areas. In public places, the cameras record information on DVR which is stored for six months.

There’s also two sections - one for males and the other for females - which have been established for drug and alcohol therapy. Levy said that these areas were designed by EIHAB CEO Ahmed Hegazy, who specifically picked out the furniture and other items.

“We’re getting a lot of inquiries from parents who want to get treatment for their children for this disease,” Levy explained about drug and alcohol abuse. “And it is a disease.”

“Our motto is, we want to work with the community,” Levy said.