Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) Reviews, Cost, Complaints

Erie County Medical Center (ECMC)


Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) Review

For over 30 years, Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) has used evidence-based practices to treat adults, adolescents and families affected by the disease of addiction. Located in western Buffalo, 90 minutes from the Canadian border, Erie County Medical Center claims to offer the most comprehensive treatment services in Western New York, providing detox, residential care and outpatient services for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders.

Accommodations and Food

The 53-bed inpatient program (35 beds for residential and 18 for detox) is located on the ninth floor of the Erie County Medical Center. Residential and detox services are provided for adults ages 18 and over. All rooms are double occupancy with an adjacent bathroom, and while the unit is a traditional hospital setting, clients sleep in conventional twin beds rather than hospital beds.

ECMC has a day room, where clients can watch TV during free time, a nurse’s station, dining area, a small kitchen for snacks and drinks, counseling offices and a large day room for group therapy. Laundry facilities are on the unit and clients are responsible for washing their own clothes, but the hospital staff washes all linens.

Meals are served three times per day and brought to the unit from the hospital cafeteria. Clients are involved in meal planning and work with dietitians one-on-one to devise a weekly menu with a variety of healthy options. In this manner, dietary requests can be accommodated. Caffeine is permitted in the morning and while sugar is not restricted, the client’s kitchen is stocked with fruit, yogurt, cereal, juice and tea.

Treatment and Staff

Clients often begin treatment in detox. ECMC provides a full medical detox, using Suboxone for opiates and Librium for alcohol, all managed by a physician and 24-hour nursing staff. Depending on the severity of withdrawals, the typical length of stay is three to five days, at which point many clients begin treatment in the residential program.

The residential substance abuse program is 28 days long and utilizes CBT and DBT as its primary therapeutic modalities. Group and individual therapy, supplemented by the 12 steps and experiential therapy, are its building blocks.

The typical schedule is a 6:30 am wake up with breakfast at 7:15. Clients attend group therapy from 8 until 11:30 am. Lunch is brought to the unit at noon with free time after lunch. Sessions begin again at 2 pm and last until 5 pm. Group topics include relapse prevention, success strategies and spirituality and process groups. Gender specific groups, often dealing with trauma, take place twice a week. Educational classes include addiction studies, an introduction to the 12 steps, communication strategies and vocational training. Residents attend 12-step meetings on the hospital premises three nights per week. All clients see a Master’s-level therapist once a week for individual therapy. Clients with co-occurring disorders see a psychiatrist for medication management and are assigned a counselor trained in or familiar with their diagnosis.

The treatment team consists of a psychiatrist, nursing staff, Master’s-level therapists, LADCs, nutritionists and treatment technician assistants. The client-to-staff ratio at ECMC is a respectable six-to-one.

Outpatient services for adults and adolescents are offered at three satellite clinics in Buffalo. Outpatient treatment services start with an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), which is a six-day-a-week, two-hour-a-day program for those needing intensive stabilization to remain drug and alcohol free. Duration is typically 16 weeks, but may be shorter depending on progress. Discussion topics are similar in scope to the residential program and sessions are an hour long. IOP clients also have individual therapy once per week and attend group and educational sessions daily. Dual diagnosis clients see a psychiatrist once a month for medication management. Any family counseling is scheduled as needed.

Regular outpatient clients meet twice per week for 90-minutes of group therapy and individual therapy is scheduled as needed. All three clinics also provide treatment for adolescents. The adolescent outpatient program meets three afternoons per week for two hours. Topics include peer pressure, gender specific groups, family communication and dynamics and peer talk back. Sober activities are also scheduled. Parents and legal guardians are required to attend family group once a week in support of their kids.

LADCs facilitate all sessions in the outpatient clinics, and clients have access to Master’s-level therapists and a psychiatrist as well.


Experiential therapy in the residential program consists of yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and creative drawing. EMDR and ECT are also used for trauma and depression.

The families of residential clients are encouraged to be involved in treatment and are welcome to attend educational sessions on Saturdays, after which there is a family process group. During this process, each family member shares their experience with addiction and its effects. All families who attend meet in one large group. Visiting hours are on Sunday from noon to 3 pm. All visitors must be approved the treatment team prior to arriving on the unit and all guests must be at least 13 years old.

In Summary

Erie County Medical Center offers comprehensive treatment for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders and for a reasonable fee. While treatment takes place in a traditional hospital setting, which some might be resistant to, this is a program that should appeal to those interested in a place that offers a number of treatment modalities, credentialed professionals and an involved family program.

Erie County Medical Center Corporation Location

462 Grider St.
Buffalo, New York

Erie County Medical Center Cost

$12,000 (28 days). Reach Erie County Medical Center by phone at (716) 898-3000 or by email. Find Erie County Medical Center on Facebook

Do you have a complaint or review of Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) to add? Use the comment area below to add your Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) review.



  1. I don’t care how much money has been poured into the physcial structure of ECMC, the detox/rehab facility should be shut down. It is a joke. My 41 year old daughter was abusing RX anxiety/depression medications and during the holidays was confronted by my son and dil. They were able to convince her that she desperately needed help. She agreed and they got her to ECMC. I was unable to find out any information about her status for 2 days and as they wouldn’t allow her to keep anything with her, it took days to find out that she was never given a towel to shower and had only urinated once in the 5 days she was there .Obviously she was severely dehydrated and in the state of mind she was in, probably didn’t care much. Nobody communicated with her as to what they were giving her for physical symptoms and they were incredibly rude. I realize there is a stigma attached to the entire drug addiction problem, but if sick individuals are willing to seek help, they should be treated like human beings. I am appalled and grateful she survived the horrible treatment she received while she was there.

  2. Does any of this have to do with the insurance people have. Usually, the better the insurance, the better care. I dont know, but sure seems possible. Undecover sounds perfect for this place.

  3. I have been a patient at ECMC immune deficiency center basement level where patients are treated for drug abuse as well, HIV. I have a friend that was seen and has been a patient for at lease five years. She has never ever missed an appointed never relapse never pissed dirty, she has been honest and true to the program. After her doctor of a few years Dr.Neal had retired, she was told that the doctor she was going to be continued to be treated by is Dr.shawny, she was a an HIV doctor, but was able to continue treating her for her opioid addiction and continued prescribing her Suboxone. One day my friend arrives to her appointment and a nurse comes in and hands her a paper with lists of doctors that help with drug addiction, and tells her that Dr. Shawnee can no long treat her as a patient. Her friends asks what the problem is, and the nurse tells her, well the doctor is for HIV and not Suboxone, friend says yes I am aware of that. But why now? Why am I being told this after being treated for over a year? Well, there no reason dr. Shawnee just wants to see her HIV patients. Friend breaks out in tears and begs to stay for at lease enough time to get another suboxone doctor? Then the nurse tells her friend, well we circled a few numbers in the papers giving to you. Try out the ones that are circled. Now last month the girls friend had her appointment with the same doctor Dr. Shawnee at ECMC but the lady that I believes is the social worker for the HIV patients was in the waiting room, with another lady friend of hers, with a waiting room full of patients, am was talking in such an inappropriate manor, using words such as, “what the Fuck,”Oh Fuck that.. ” And speaking words such as SHIT girl, I know. She was bold blunt and very forward and comfortable with her words and she spoke them very freely. The friend kept her head down, while still waiting to be seen by the dr. she went back to be weighed as this was the normal process at every drs. Visit. But when her friend seen the doctor, she spoke to the dr. About how uncomfortable the social worker had made her feel while waiting in the waiting room. Dr. Shawnee shook her head, and said yea I know what you mean, maybe you can speak with Mrs. O’Brain she’s the person who’s in charge here. The girls fri no said, well it’s not a big deal, and I don’t want to make it a big deal, I was just saying, that I was uncomfortable with the words she was speaking, knowing she’s a professional and working with Chronically I’ll people and others with opioids addictions. The dr. Told her friend that she would see her next month. As her friend was leaving, she was stopped in the waiting room and asked to come back inside the office where she seen dr. Shawnee. She said sure no problem, the social worker wants to see you, her friend sat down in her office, she again is the manger of the Immune Deficiency department. She told the friend that she would look into it, as the girl explained again that it wasn’t a bid deal, she didn’t want any trouble over, and that she was shocked ? and couldn’t believe what she was hearing, and just thought it were other patients chatting in the waiting room, and to find out it was really ONE OF THE WORKERS chatting with either another patient or family or friend. Well the girl left the office and this is when she was pushed away and told she had to find another doctor because of Doctor, Shawnee strictly only wanted to treat her HIV patients. My friend has never relapsed never pissed dirty, never missed an appointment. Never sold or traded her medication never abused the medication sense she has been on it, for years, and now being treated this way, and with the medication she is on and was being prescribed is an controlled Substance and can’t be taking straight off of it, without being very sick. Why is she being treated this way, do they want her to relapse and go onto the streets and buy drugs and overdose or maybe get arrested? My friend called other doctors that treat opioid addiction and found someone else, made an appointment, but she’s having to do everything all over again the whole process of seeing councilor, just like in the beginning, and it’s fair. For what reason is my friend having to be treated by the Doctors her at ECMC Hospital. For all the time her friend was see and treated, she never has had any problem with anyone until now. My friend calls the doctors office to see if the doctor Shawnee at ECMC can call her into her pharmacy JUST enough of her medication until she’s seen and treated by her new one, she was told, No doctor Shawnee told me to tell, you she no longer prescribes to you and that she needs to get it from her new doctor. She told the nurse she has one but can’t be seen until May 11,2017. NO ONE HAS EVER RETURNED MY CALL OR CALLED IN MY PRESCRIPTION, My friend is very sick, she has no MEDICATION AND ITS A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE AND CAN MAKE ANYONE VERY ILL IF NOT TAKEN AS PRESCRIBED. HER FRIEND IS DISCOURAGED OVER THIS and wants justice for being treated like a no one and left to suffer with pain.

    • Concerned friend on

      Now if I might add that my friend still waits to hear back from her doctor for enough of her medication until she gets into her new doctor appointment, they said Doctor Shawnee said no. She won’t get it from them. She won’t call in anything. She remembers when she was handed the papers for other doctors that she can be seen and hopefully they have opening because there are waiting lists, the papers were handed to her by the social worker that was in the waiting room with the other women speaking very loud and using profanity. She did tell my friend, sweetie, we only see and treat HIV patients as her friend begged Dr. Shawnee to allow for her to stay until she found another dr. And kept repeating what did she do, why was this happening? The social worker named Mrs. Desire shook her head and walked away. When my friend was taking into the office of Mrs. O’Brain the manger my friend asked that this wasn’t to be mentioned to anyone and again said to Mrs.OBRAIN I WANT NO PROBLEMS, thinking maybe something like this would coma about, SURE ENOUGH, LOOK ? AT HOW SHE IS BEING TREATED at her next visit… my poor girlfriend is left to fend for her self and what do they want for her to do, buy from the streets, take a chance of getting caught and arrested or killed or start using again. Hey JS they can open up a special place for HERION USERS JS again, downtown Buffalo and allow for them to go and relax and shoot up, with HERION and just in case they might OVERDOSE they can be at this Downtown new built special place where they can be saved, using a medication to stop HERION overdose!!! Are you kidding me?! And Ones like my friend seeks help with an addiction and has been clean while on suboxone and doing very well, is being mistreated , please help me to help my friend that has been doing to good and has never been dirty never ever missed any one appointment and only has been %100 honest and true to the program and now all of the sudden this, PLEASE TELL ME WAHT YOU THINK AND ANY ADVICE IS APPRECIATED, GOD BLESS YOU AND PLEASE WISH HER LUCK, I ask for prayers that she won’t have to go without her medication… she has a family and children and has been doing great while on the suboxone, times like this are times when doctors are cruel and unfair for no reason and forced to make drug addicts start using again.. Prayers needed here please, thanks ?

  4. ECMC files false reports that its patients are involuntarily hospitalized when they are not. The report goes to NYS Criminal Justice Services, the NYS Police, the NYS Office of Mental Health, the FBI, the County Courts, the County Clerk’s Office, and others. It is a dangerous place for patients.
    The shower floors are slanted away from the floor drains allowing water to flow all over the bathroom floors and creating a health and safety hazard to patients. Again, it is a dangerous place for patients.
    Someone should go undercover in the CPEP and record what is really going on in there. No food, no water, no normal daily meds for patients. When a patient begins to fall asleep, a staff member comes in to question them and deprive them of sleep. No grooming supplies are provided, such as, tooth brushes, soap, cloths.

  5. A friend brought her son there. He was giving up hope to ever have a life outside of addiction and asked for help. He was tuned away with a Rx for a drug he told them had caused him seizures and was told “well come back then”. His mom was told (after she said “my son is going to die”) that everyone dies. This is why are young lives are stuck in this epidemic. Ignorance by medical personnel is unacceptable. This is not the first complaint I have heard. Everyone on the blogs and FB says don’t go near that place if you really want help.

    • Also had a neighbor turned away. Heroin addict, diabetic with a brain tumor. Given meds and sent home. He had overdosed 3 times. He is going to die. Tonight a friend of mine who is an alcoholic was turned away. Medical care is awful. People begging for help.

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