June 28, 2015

Lee, Thompson Express Concerns Over the Impact of Thunder Road Closure on Bay Area Youth

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Mike Thompson (CA-5) lead a letter to Sutter Health expressing their concerns over the impact of the potential closure of the Thunder Road Adolescent Treatment Center in Oakland, California. The letter was cosigned by 18 Members of Congress from Northern California Thunder Road, which is owned and operated by Sutter Health, provides assistance to youth and families who are recovering from alcohol, drug and nicotine addictions.

“For nearly three decades, young people and families across Northern California have depended on Thunder Road to provide treatment and support for those battling alcohol, drug and nicotine addictions. With the announcement of Thunder Roads closure, I am deeply concerned that many in need of treatment and support could go without it,” said Congresswoman Lee. “I look forward to working with the community and others to ensure adequate treatment resources for our community.”

“The closure of Thunder Road would be a devastating blow to youth and families from across Northern California that depend on its services,” said Thompson. “For nearly thirty years, it has helped young people break from the grips of addiction and get on a path towards recovery. Many of our most vulnerable youth and their families would have nowhere to turn if Thunder Road closed its doors. We need to work together and find a way to keep this treatment center open.”

Earlier this year, Sutter Health announced that operations at Thunder Road Adolescent Treatment Centers, Inc. were no longer sustainable, and the company would be working with Alameda county to find an alternative management solution. For nearly thirty years, Thunder Road has provided the highest level of care to over 10,000 teens in Alameda and Contra Costa counties that have struggled with mental health and substance abuse.

The full text of the letter is below.

June 24, 2015


Dear Mr. Fry:


On behalf of our constituencies, we write to express our concern over the recent reduction in services offered by the Thunder Road program. As representatives of the communities who depend on this facility, we fear that such diminished services could jeopardize the great strides that the Thunder Road program has made possible.

Our deep concern arises from the fact that Thunder Road is an essential resource for low-income and indigent youth dealing with addiction and co-occurring behavioral disorders.  Over the 28 years since the program opened, it has served thousands of youth and families from the greater Bay Area and Northern California.  With its unique licensure as both a chemical dependency recovery hospital and a group home, along with accreditation by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, Thunder Road offers the highest available level of care, and serves as the last chance for its patients.  This is especially true for drug-addicted youth in our child welfare and juvenile justice systems -- and, as important, for youth who are at imminent risk of falling into those systems. If Thunder Road closes, hundreds of vulnerable adolescents and their families across Northern California will lose access to its vital services. This closure would be a devastating loss to the many communities served by Thunder Road. 

We understand that Sutter Health is in the process of transitioning ownership of the Thunder Road program in order to ensure its long-term viability. We respectfully request an update on the current level of operations at the Thunder Road program, as well as the current outlook for the program’s future.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


                                                                                                                                                                                Barbara Lee                                         Mike Thompson
                                                                                                                                                                      Member of Congress                                  Member of Congress