Pubdate: Wed, 19 Jul 2000
Source: Journal Gazette (IN)
Copyright: 2000 Journal Gazette
Contact:  600 W. Main Street, Ft. Wayne, IN. 46802
Fax: (219) 461-8648


Wells Street Merchants And Bloomingdale Neighborhood Residents Take Note:

Street junkies won't visit the medical clinic that just moved to Wells 
Street around the clock looking for free, easy highs from methadone.

First, most of the patients, according to the clinic's co-owner, are not 
addicted to street drugs such as heroin. Most are people from all incomes 
and walks of life seeking treatment for addiction to legally prescribed 
pain medication.

Second, the clinic opens early in the morning and closes at 12:30 p.m. Most 
of the 50 or so patients who visit each day are there and gone before 9 a.m.

Third, methadone is not dispensed for nothing. Treatment - which includes 
counseling as well as methadone - costs $49 a week, and patients tend to be 
motivated to kick their habits.

Finally, methadone does not give users a "high." Proper doses of methadone 
do not give the patient a euphoric or sedative feeling. Dr. Jay Fawver, a 
local psychiatrist, says comparing heroin to methadone is akin to comparing 
cocaine to a cigarette.

Some neighbors expressed concern when Center for Behavioral Health Indiana 
Inc. announced plans to move into the vacant storefront at 1414 Wells St., 
wedged between a pawn shop and convenience store. They fear the patients 
that the clinic will bring and worry about its proximity to Bloomingdale 
Elementary School.

But for the past 21U2 years, the clinic was situated just two blocks from 
Lakeside Middle School without complaints. A neighboring doctor in the Park 
Lake Medical Building, the clinic's home until Monday, said he knew of no 
incidents involving clinic patients.

The clinic was forced to leave because its lease was up, the building had 
new owners and a new tenant outbid the clinic for the space, according to 
Brant Massman, co-owner of the Center for Behavioral Health Indiana. The 
Wells Street location was chosen because it is centrally located for its 

Granted, the location is not ideal for a medical clinic because its 
storefront location is out in the open, making it hard for patients to 
discreetly slip in and out. A medical setting would seem to be the 
preferred location. The clinic informed patients of the move in advance, 
though, and those concerned about privacy can schedule pre-rush hour 

The clinic is much like a physician's office. Indeed, a staff physician 
evaluates patients, and methadone is given only with his prescription. The 
clinic employs two full-time nurses as well. Medical students in their 
second and third years of residency visit the clinic. State and federal 
agencies regulate and inspect it.

Neighborhood residents and merchants should not be criticized for their 
trepidation about the clinic. They understandably want to try to keep 
unsavory people from their neighborhood, already home to several bars, some 
with a rough reputation.

But like those at other clinics, the patients of the Center for Behavioral 
Health are simply seeking medical help to address a physical ailment.

Hells Angels don't meet weekly at the Harley Davidson repair and apparel 
store across the street from the clinic. That stereotype has long been 
shattered - Harley owners are as likely to be well-paid professionals in 
their 50s and 60s.

Bloomingdale residents should likewise reject the stereotypical image of 
the methadone clinic and judge whether it really affects the neighborhood.

If problems arise and are documented, the clinic should voluntarily move. 
If not, just as the motorcycle store and pawn shop have become part of the 
neighborhood, the clinic can as well.
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