HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Methadone Clinics Forced To Wait
Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jan 2004
Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)
Copyright: 2004 Charleston Daily Mail
Author: Therese Smith
Bookmark: (Methadone)


Now that the state won't approve any new methadone clinics for at
least six months, those eight waiting in the wings will just have to

"I'm disappointed," said Gerald Schmidt, chief operations officer for
Valley HealthCare System in Morgantown. "But this is an excellent
opportunity to look at the system."

Schmidt's agency already had filed a request with the state Health
Care Authority to team up with a company that develops methadone clinics.

Currently, seven clinics operate in the state. They treat people
addicted to opium-based drugs such as OxyContin with a synthetic
narcotic to wean them off the illegal substances.

Authority Chairwoman Sonia Chambers announced the moratorium
Wednesday. She said taking some time out would allow state officials
to examine the issues and develop standards to which clinics should

"Most in West Virginia are for-profit," Chambers said. "Is that the
best way to treat people who are addicted?"

Indeed, some physicians share Chambers' concern.

Dr. Ahmed Faheem, a Beckley psychiatrist and former president of the
West Virginia State Medical Association, said the way methadone
clinics have mushroomed begs a closer look.

Dr. Ahmet "Ozzie" Ozturk, medical director of Cabell Huntington
Hospital's pain management center, said he believes the clinics tend
to treat patients with more methadone than is needed and don't test
urine with much scrutiny to make sure the patient is getting it.

He said he's heard from his own patients about others who establish a
relationship with a clinic, gain trust and then are allowed to take
home a couple of week's doses. Some then sell methadone on the
streets, Ozturk said.

However, an official with the company that operates six of the state's
clinics told the Associated Press this week that the centers also
provide counseling and typically have patients ingest the methadone in
front of nurses.

Delegate Marshall Long, D-Mercer and a physician, is working on
legislation to regulate methadone.
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