Former nursing home eyed for detox facility

The former RegalCare at Prospect nursing home at 25 Royal Crest Drive in Prospect sits vacant. A company wants to open an inpatient residential detoxification facility at the site. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

PROSPECT — The operators of five inpatient residential detoxification facilities across the country are looking to make Prospect home to their sixth facility.

Representatives of The Haven of Connecticut came before the Planning and Zoning Commission March 6 for a preliminary discussion on the company’s plan to renovate the now-closed RegalCare at Prospect, a former nursing home at 25 Royal Crest Drive, and turn it into a 40-bed, inpatient residential detoxification facility.

Matthew Cincogrono, national director of business development for the company, said the facility would offer a five- to 14-day treatment program for adults only. People would attend the program on a voluntary basis, meaning they aren’t court-ordered to go through a treatment program, he said.

The goal, Cincogrono said, is to partner with hospitals in the region for referrals. People who go through the program would be transferred to long-term treatment facilities or return back to their homes, he said.

Matthias Peters-Kroll, an attorney with the firm Minnella, Tramuta & Edwards who is representing The Haven of Connecticut, said the company only accepts private insurance and private pay and doesn’t accept state insurance.

Peters-Kroll said the company has been in discussions with the owner of the former nursing home to buy the land and building. The purchase would be contingent on getting zoning approval for the facility, he said.

The owner of the former nursing home is listed as Royal Senior Holdings LLC out of Lakewood, N.J., according to the property card. The former nursing home, which sits on 8.4 acres of land, was built in 1970, according to the property card.

The former nursing home dealt with several issues over recent years stemming from a septic system failure in 2017 that caused sewage to backup into parts of the building. In a phone interview the day after the meeting, Maura Esposito, director of the Chesprocott Health District, said the septic system has been shut off, emptied and capped at the building. She said there is a significant amount of work that needs to be done to fix the issues. Ultimately, RegalCare at Prospect decided to close over a year ago, she said.

The property is in a residential zone. The nursing home operated as a legal use under a special permit, according to town officials. The detox facility would need a special permit approved by the commission or an amendment to the zoning regulations to move forward.

“We know that, and at some point in the future we will be going forward with that application,” Peters-Kroll said.

The discussion last week was an informal one on the proposal.

“We didn’t want to blindside anybody,” Cincogrono said. “We didn’t want to submit an application without coming and looking you guys in the face. … We want you guys to know who we are.”

The commission’s questions and comments focused on staffing, safety and traffic issues.

Cincogrono said the facility would be staffed 24 hours a day and comply with state requirements. There would be about 15 to 20 workers per shift, he said, adding the facility would create about 50 jobs.

Cincogrono said the facility wouldn’t hold outside meetings, like Alcoholics Anonymous. It may do family sessions, but those would likely be done one day a week, he said.

As for security, Cincogrono said anyone who attends the program does so on a voluntary basis.

“Generally it’s a very docile population,” he said.

Cincogrono said the company would be open to hiring security, if that is something the commission wanted.

Cincogrono said the company plans to buy the property and invest a considerable amount of money into renovating the building, which is in disrepair, and property.

“This isn’t a fly-by-night; we operate five facilities currently,” he said.

The other facilities don’t operate under The Haven of Connecticut name. Cincogrono said the facilities are in urban and suburban areas, including in Bloomington, Ind., Philadelphia, Pa. and Florida.

The company had not submitted an application to the town as of last week. If the commission were to approve the proposal, the company would still have to apply for a certificate of need with the state, a process that takes between nine and 12 months, according to Cincogrono.

Prospect wasn’t the first town in the state the company sought to locate.

The Haven of Connecticut had an agreement in place last year with the developers of a new building in downtown Naugatuck to open a detox facility in the building. The building, which is being built on a lot at the corner of Maple and Water streets in Naugatuck known as Parcel C, will be anchored by medical offices operated by St. Mary’s Hospital.

When the plan for the Naugatuck facility came to light last May, there was a public outcry against it.

Cincogrono said the company didn’t want to have an adversarial relationship with Naugatuck and decided to look elsewhere.

“We want to help people. We want to operate a business. We’re not trying to make enemies,” he said.