Pubdate: Fri, 20 May 2005
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2005 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Bookmark: (Methadone)


BANGOR - A methadone clinic set to open this summer in a Hogan Road strip 
mall already has a waiting list of 10 patients, according to a 
representative of the Florida-based company that is going to run it.

Ultimately, however, Colonial Management Group's Penobscot County Metro 
Treatment Center could serve as many as 250 people struggling with 
addiction to opiates.

During a meeting Thursday with members of a local advisory group, Lynn 
Costigan, Colonial's associate director for new development, provided a 
tour of the company's clinical space and answered questions about the 
operation, expected to start up sometime this summer.

The advisory group was established earlier this year by the City Council to 
make sure that community concerns about the clinic are heard and addressed, 
according to Councilor Susan Hawes, the group's chairman.

Renovations are completed, though some of the furniture has yet to arrive, 
Costigan said during the tour. She said that city personnel have inspected 
the clinic and should issue a certificate of occupancy soon.

The wild card is when the necessary federal and state inspection can be 
completed, she said.

Once it opens, though, the clinic will serve adults only, Costigan said. 
And unless they are scheduled for counseling or undergo random drug 
testing, most patients will be at the clinic for "between five and 10 
minutes a day," she said.

"They'll come in, do their thing and leave," Costigan said during the tour 
of the leased space the clinic will occupy.

During the tour, committee members saw the waiting area, and entered 
through a pair of frosted glass doors. The windows were covered with 
vertical blinds, another measure of privacy from patrons of the rest of the 
strip mall's businesses.

They also saw the conference room off the waiting area and went down the 
hallway lined with offices for staff, the area in which patient records and 
medication will be stored under lock and key, and the window where patients 
will line up for their daily methadone doses.

Methadone will be delivered in liquid form, in sealed, single-dose 
childproof packaging, Costigan said.

Colonial also will provide substance abuse counseling and support groups 
for those who have contracted Hepatitis C and who need to improve their 
parenting skills, among other things.

In response to a question from panel member Gary Eckmann, who owns the 
McDonald's Restaurant across the parking lot from the clinic, Costigan said 
she has met with local security companies but has no specific plan to hire 
security at this point.

A concern that future neighbors and city officials have expressed about the 
clinic is that it could draw drug dealers seeking to prey on an already 
vulnerable population.

Bill Lowenstein, associate director of the state Office of Substance Abuse 
and a committee member, said that while that can occur, the state has found 
that the most prevalent problem is verbal arguments that result from 
"personality conflicts [among opiate addicts]. In a sense, it's a 
close-knit community.

"What we ask is that clinics have a presence [outside]," Lowenstein said. 
"It doesn't have to be security. It could be a staff person."

Costigan said that Colonial has a plan in place and that those who don't 
abide by the program's rules could be ousted.

Also Thursday, advisory panel members met Gerri Plourde, who has been hired 
as the clinic's program director.

Costigan said others hired to staff the clinic include:

. Russ Dubois, who will serve as clinical supervisor.

. Dr. Arvind Patel, hired to serve as the clinic's physician.

. Leo Yapsuga, who will be the clinic's pharmacist.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Elizabeth Wehrman