Methadone backers explain clinic plan to city officials

LEWISTON — Local officials are not the first to have doubts about methadone clinics in their town, said Bob Potter, vice president of development for Massachusetts-based Community Substance Abuse Centers.

"But that's our job, to talk to staff, to talk to neighbors and members of the community," Potter told city councilors and members of the city's Planning Board on Tuesday night.

The company has applied for a city license to open the first-ever Lewiston-based methadone clinic at 18 Mollison Way, near the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley.

On Tuesday night, they tried to explain their business and the nature of methadone treatment to city officials. The matter is scheduled to go before the Planning Board in February — either Feb. 14 or Feb. 28, according to city officials. Then the matter goes to the City Council for two public hearings.

Tuesday's workshop meeting was a short seminar on the way the business handles its methadone program.

Methadone is used to treat addiction to opioid drugs, such as heroin and OxyContin. The company operates 12 clinics in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and a 13th at 2300 Congress St. in Portland.

Jennifer Minthorn, program director of the Portland clinic, said the company's program has been successful in helping addicts improve their lives.

According to the company's statistics, employment rates for the company's patients typically went from 45 percent to 60 percent after their first year of treatment. Homelessness among patients dropped from 2.6 percent to 0.67 percent and arrests went from 14 percent to 4.7 percent.

"They are getting the resources that they need," Minthorn said. "I think that really speaks to the type of impact we have on their lives."

Potter said the Lewiston facility would be heavily regulated by multiple state and federal agencies. In addition, the company hosts meetings with neighbors, residents and local officials twice each year to discuss any problems or complaints.

Councilors asked questions about the company's methods, funding and security measures. Chief Executive Officer Matt Davis said the Lewiston clinic's fees would be paid by individual patients or by MaineCare and that the patients are carefully controlled. Staff is highly trained and access to the building is controlled and monitored by multiple video cameras.

But officials devoted little time to the company's application and Lewiston's licensing rules. Lewiston requires substance-abuse treatment centers to get business licenses from the city. Licenses must be approved and reviewed each year by the City Council. The ordinance allows substance-abuse treatment centers to be built only if they are a minimum of 1,000 feet from churches, schools, parks and day care centers or facilities.

Linda Glass, owner of Pediatric Associates at 33 Mollison Way, said after the meeting that the list of exemptions should include doctors' offices.

"The spirit of this ordinance was to guard the children's safety," Glass said. "While they mention, schools, churches, parks and day care, the theme is kids. Well, this is going into one of the most child-rich areas of the city."

staylor@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

interesting choice of words

Jennifer Minthorn, program director of the Portland clinic, said the company's program has been successful in helping addicts improve their lives.

They are getting the resources that they need," Minthorn said. "I think that really speaks to the type of impact we have on their lives."

i noticed nowhere in the article does it say that methadone treatment will cure or allieviate thier addiction.

 's picture

Daycare or Drug Center

I am all for drug rehabilitation centers and services to help folks who need it but not at the expense of exposing children to facilities like this. There is a daycare center not far from where they want to put this clinic. I dont care if its over the 1000 foot mark from the daycare or not. It doesnt need to be in that neighborhood. I am sure there are other options for a facility of this kind to be located elsewhere and I do agree with Linda Glass, Pediatric Associates obviously focuses on children and they dont need a drug clinic next door to them. I realize that having a clinic like this could be very helpful to those that need it but you need to find a location that isnt down the street from a daycare or a pediatric doctors office.

GARY SAVARD's picture

I watched the workshop on

I watched the workshop on Great Falls TV. Mayor Gilbert was about as transparent as glass. (Linda Glass) . I doubt that this clinic will be any different than many other programs we already provide in this City. These people are addicts getting supervised treatment by trained staff. They are not any different than any other group of people assembled someplace for services. I see no reason to oppose the licensing of this clinic.

Law Protects Clinics

Just in case you don't believe me, here's a very recent article from Naperville, IL:

"An ordinance that would have kept drug treatment clinics limited to certain zoning districts in Naperville is no longer being pursued, according to a memo from the city’s development department.

The proposal, brought to the Plan Commission in June, would have defined substance abuse treatment facilities as medical facilities offering detox, rehabilitation and distribution of prescriptions like methadone, and limited them to certain districts in the city.

But, according to a memo from the city’s transportation, engineering and development department, staff research found that “such facilities are protected by law and these facilities cannot be separately distinguished from medical facilities in terms of zoning or conditions.”

Should a substance abuse treatment clinic seek to open in Naperville, it would be allowed in any zoning district where medical offices are allowed."

WHat Linda Glass is

WHat Linda Glass is suggesting is in BLATANT violation of the ADA. Clinics CANNOT be zoned any differently than doctor's offices are--it is illegal and will not stand up in court, period. Many other towns have tried this only to find themselves poorer but wiser. This clinic has already shown that it will stand and fight if necessary--why not take a few minutes to educate your town and yourselves about the law before making these prejudicial, discriminatory "zoning laws" that try to keep clinic patients away from every conceivable type of business, residence and natural area?

These patients I assure you already have plenty of contact with children--their own, and yours. At the clinic in my town, we have patients who are RNs, teachers, daycare workers, lawyers, grocery store owners, homemakers, college students, salesmen, etc. They live next door to you, they attend your church, they may be your gardener, your fireman, your postman, your co-worker, your cousin. They are not monsters, they are human beings who are getting help for their addiction.

It's a sad shame that the ADA has to step in and protect these places from discrimination in the form of illegal "zoning laws", but it's necessary, thanks to the closed minded attitudes and false assumptions and fears that drive those who protest.

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