Philly's oldest drug treatment center imperiled as opioid epidemic rages on

The Consortium appeals to the city for ownership of its building.

Pat Loeb
June 14, 2018 - 7:15 am

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia officials are meeting Thursday with executives of the city's oldest drug treatment center to discuss the center's future. Financial difficulties are imperiling the Consortium, as the opioid epidemic makes its services more vital than ever.

The Consortium was founded in 1967 and moved into the old Philadelphia General Hospital 10 years later. President John White says that, ever since, the city has been promising to turn the building over, but never has, and now the Consortium needs ownership so it can borrow money to make badly needed repairs.

"The physical condition of the building is potentially a threat to the safety of the staff and the clients that are seen there," White said.

The city is reluctant to let go of a valuable asset, according to Philadelphia's deputy managing director Brian Abernathy, especially if it's not sure of the recipients long-term health. 

"Unfortunately, the Consortium has had some financial challenges," Abernathy said. "They have an audit that has a number of questions. We're not certain that handing over this asset to the Consortium is the best use of taxpayers' dollars and assets."

White blames the financial challenges, in part, on the city's refusal to turn over the building and is confident the Consortium will be stable if it has it.

"None of this is insurmountable," White said. 

Abernathy says the city values the Consortium and will work with them to get the building repaired.