Letters to the editor — Aug. 28, 2019

MAT is optional

We see the reminders and remnants of Sequim’s historical past in many ways. I’m in awe and in a profound way feel in debt for the accomplishments and sacrifices of our forbearers.

So here we are today living with relatively less hardship but desperately in search of new industries to replace the loss of earlier depleted ones.

Our options seem few, and so in desperation we could find ourselves falling prey to less desirable replacements such as the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic, which in the long run will not sustain us! What then?

One suggestion! A new hospital here in Sequim would benefit us in a way we could all get behind and support! And it could incorporate the treatment for “all” addictions and mental disorders. Think of the possibilities for good paying jobs, supporting services and other businesses. We could become a first class medical center.

Now that would be a legacy to be proud of!

Gary Miller

Sequim

MAT facility is needed

Dear Sequim: There is good news and bad news.

The good news is that medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs have a 75- to 80-percent success rate, according to Brent Simcosky, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Health Services Director. The programs offer behavioral, physical and prescription solutions with daily patient tracking.

Having the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe manage MAT to fight the opioid epidemic means we’ll get the same excellence as the Railroad Bridge Park, the clinic, the golf course, etc.

The bad news is for the people stirring up fear-based images of addicts invading our perfect town. Oops, the addicts are already here. Sequim has been getting help with addiction for years at the Jamestown Family Health Clinic, all without crime spikes or property value plunges. In fact, if you’ve ever had an accident, oral surgery or joint replacements you’ve likely used opioids. So have your Sequim neighbors. To quote POGO, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

I know firsthand why we need MAT in Sequim. In 2005 I contracted Transverse Myelitis temporarily paralyzing me from the chest down. I was on morphine, then methadone and for the last 14 years I’ve been on prescription opioids for excruciating pain. I didn’t need to break into your home or car to fund my habit. It was affordable ($6 a month) and addictive. This year, while a patient at Jamestown Family Health Clinic, I was able to get off opioids.

The new MAT center is a spin-off clinic from what is already successful in Sequim. Additionally, it will be 1.5 miles farther away from schools and downtown on land zoned for healthcare. Because it will be tucked behind a business park it will be private yet accessible to people of all means.

The campaign against the Sequim MAT center is misinformed addiction-shaming. It needs to stop.

We may live in paradise, but we all have our demons.

Sally Franz

Sequim

Why the MAT?

If you attended the Tribe’s meeting in July, you know that the opposition is not for the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic, but the location.

Some important points that make Sequim a poor site:

• Our police force and emergency medical resources are very limited. Should they respond to a situation at the MAT, that takes significant critical community assets away from those of us who require and pay taxes for those services.

• A real possibility exists that some MAT patients will require emergency care and/or hospitalization. Those assets are almost 20 miles away.

• The proposed MAT location is in a commercial development zone. Commercial and retail businesses do extensive reviews of possible new sites. These reviews often include site visits. A MAT in the middle of this area will certainly be a major negative issue. The MAT could actually kill the future commercial development of this area. This assessment is from actual experience.

• Tribal chair Ron Allen has stated that the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has been working on the MAT project for more than two years, yet the majority of Sequim residents have only recently been made aware of the MAT and the proposed location. This certainly begs the question of how long the Sequim City Council and Planning Commission have known about the tribe’s plans. Also, it certainly gives a strong impression of their working for the tribe’s interests at the expense of the critical interests of Sequim residents. At the very least it shows that they were/are “asleep at the switch.”

Their conduct and inaction are extremely disturbing, frustrating and shameful. Remember, they are our elected officials, not the tribe’s.

In our opinion, if the MAT location had been brought to a general vote early in the planning process, it would not have been approved by Sequim residents.

Robert and Carole Travis

Sequim

Concerned with MAT security

If patients congregate off-site somewhere in Sequim at night, what provisions will be made to monitor drug dealings by the drug dealers that will take advantage of the situation?

What provision will be made to monitor as well as prevent criminal activity by patients who revert to their previous addiction and need further funds to be able to purchase what they want?

Terri DiMartino

Sequim

Where does MAT clinic lead for patients?

One important question regarding the medicine used to assist with heroin withdrawal is how do we justify replacing one addiction with another and call it “recovery?”

Suboxone, once thought to be a miracle drug to treat opiate addiction, is actually causing an epidemic in its own right. An article from the Maryland Addiction Recovery Center (www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com/the-dangers-of-long-term-suboxone-use) states that “suboxone … “ (which is the very assistance planned for the MAT facility proposed for Sequim), “ … keeps opiate withdrawal symptoms at bay, but does not offer any actual treatment and clearly does not offer a solution for over-coming addiction. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms can last for several weeks to several months as opposed to 1-2 weeks for opiate withdrawal.”

The initial phase of Sequim’s medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic planned to be ready to open in a couple of years, will cover that first opiate withdrawal period, medically assisted.

That leaves the question of how patients are expected to end their use of the very addictive suboxone that has such a lengthy and tortuous withdrawal, including suicidal tendencies. Don’t patients deserve the chance to end up truly drug-free, which is prevented with the substitution of another addictive substance?

A locally sized treatment facility — not a two-county mega-clinic largely funded by our taxes thereby opening it up to patients from anywhere — offering comprehensive addiction treatment that supports long-term, sustainable recovery rather than “replacement” treatment could give patients that chance.

Cindy Mackay

Sequim

Clinic is rewarding poor behavior

I oppose the proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) facility for several reasons.

First and foremost is the reality that we taxpayers, via the MAT, are yet again being forced to reward misbehavior — reward that will simply beget yet more misbehavior and make things even worse. Do the names Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc., ring a bell? Will we ever learn this simple reality?

The alternative? Cold turkey brother, cold turkey. I’s time that self-inflicted punishment be introduced into the equation. It works.

Second, I oppose the clandestine manner with which this entire enterprise has been handled. For example, city staff told that discussion on this with we taxpayers was prohibited. Why? It makes one wonder. Was the “city-tribe complex” knowingly trying to “sneak this in the back door” to the extent that we would ultimately face a fait accompli?

Third, there’s the condescending arrogance we citizens have encountered from city and tribal officials when seeking information on this project. Citizens have met abrupt responses such as: The plans have already been made and can’t be changed now; It’s been ongoing for years and is a done deal; It’s not open to discussion, etc. These and other impolite responses are unacceptable.

Finally, and at best, the MAT facility could be built on the available tribal land in Blyn (and, yes, eyewash aside, it’s both available and feasible). But does the tribe realize that a nearby MAT would negatively impact the casino-hotel complex’s desirability, and thereby its bottom line?. If so, would it have a like impact on Sequim??

Citizens must unite to block this nightmare.

Gerald Stiles

Sequim

Some non-locals running the MAT movement

I believe in transparency when you start a program or for that matter start a nonprofit. I have worked in nonprofit most of my earning career and have always felt one should be open and honest about who you serve, how you distribute your funds and most of all, follow the purpose of your mission and by-laws.

When I viewed the recent youtube video by Save Our Sequim, I was concerned. My concerns were not only to my allegiance to the reputable nonprofits I have served, but to those who still work hard and honor the purposes of nonprofits. I checked with the Washington Secretary of State and did find that SOS is a 501(c)4 and their Articles of Incorporation were done by Apex Law Group out of Seattle. They have four board members; Jodi Wilke, Janet Rose Marschall, Kathleen Sayles and Virginia Sheppard. This is all public knowledge and available for anyone to view.

While I do not oppose anyone who is for or against a project; what I am opposed to is someone who is opposed to a project in a community where they do not reside. This is the case with two of the board members. One lives in Port Hadlock and the other in Port Angeles.

They all gave a Kitchen-Dick address belonging to one of the board members. I cry foul! How does two people who do not live in Sequim, direct and organize activities of this nature?

I feel the public has been misled in who leads these activities and this is not how a reputable nonprofit operates.

Linda Klinefelter

Sequim

Clinic commentary incomplete; significant concerns remain

A rebuttal to Ron Allen’s column in Sequim Gazette (“Tribe’s treatment center plans described,” Sequim Gazette, Aug. 14, 2019, page A-13):

Ron Allen: “In fact, Clallam County had (bold italics mine) the highest per capita opioid overdose and death rate in the state of Washington.”

Comment: I believe this may have been true in 2012. There have been hugely significant changes since that time. See the Peninsula Daily News’ lengthy article on Jan. 18 “Drop in Clallam County opioid deaths attributed to naloxone”; an excerpt as follows: “The number of opioid-related deaths per year in Clallam County dropped by 80 percent last year, likely due to the increasing amount of naloxone in the community.”

Ron Allen: “The Healing Campus is a collaboration … ”

Comment: Mr. Allen’s article only deals with Phase I. I believe OMC has made it clear it has no involvement in Phase I and at this time is only considering involvement in Phase II, per statement made at the OMC commission meeting on Aug. 7. So just exactly what is this collaboration and why is it in an article seemingly about Phase I?

Ron Allen: “The MAT clinic is not an inpatient facility.”

Comment: Phase I is not, but Phase II is.

Ron Allen on loitering: Two mentions on loitering in this article and several comments have been made in public meetings.

Comment: Ron Allen’s loitering comments explicitly in some cases and seemingly implicit in others refer to loitering on the facility premises. No mention is made of controlling loitering off the premises. Loitering on the premises is not a community concern; off the premises is a major community concern. Whose responsibility is it and how will it be dealt with and what is the guarantee of effectiveness? Also, does premises refer to the 15,000-square-foot facility or the whole 20 acres?

Ron Allen: “The Healing Campus will offer the best opportunity for sustaining recovery … ”

Comment: No meaningful evidence is provided in the article or elsewhere, other than casual comparison to the Swinomish facility in Anacortes which is located several miles from the center of the city in an industrial park with oil refineries and chemical plants and few if any residential neighbors. Are there any comparable centers? No medical literature has been presented to document the efficacy of the proposed treatment. What does “sustaining recovery” mean exactly?

Ron Allen: “An uninformed reactionary response … We always embrace the community challenges with respect, responsibility, integrity and professionalism.”

Comment: The contradiction here should be apparent. This kind of phasing is truly an insult to intelligence and an unwarranted characterization of people who don’t agree with him or simply want information. I have been called many things in my 79 years, including “too analytical” and “a bit left of center,” but “uninformed reactionary” is certainly a new one. The phrase “concerned citizen” comes to mind. “Respect, responsibility, integrity and professionalism” invoked here by Mr. Allen here is a nothing but a self-endorsement in what is substantially a piece of promotional propaganda.

James Moore

Sequim

Enforcement overdue

How long has this junk metal property been in business while violating Clallam County permits, avoiding property tax payments, and contributing to eyesore pollution as well as soil contamination? (“Midway Metals owner promises fence,” Sequim Gazette, Aug. 21, A-9)

The commissioners are just now coming down on this illegal operation? There should have been penalties served early on and at this stage a notice of foreclosure should be enacted.

This is an example of government agency officials who aren’t effectively managing their municipalities and enforcing laws meant to serve in the best interest of the constituents they represent. It appears that this negligent business owner has been an offender for many years and the county continues to ignore their responsibilities and look the other way.

Wish I could say the same for my out-of-town visitors when we are driving past this unsightly blight on our otherwise beautiful landscape. Unfortunately, this eyesore is never missed — no matter how quickly I try to pass by and their shocked reaction has become a real embarrassment without explanation.

How come our county officials aren’t embarrassed also?

Karen Whiteside

Sequim

Behaviors toward immigrants is ‘abhorrent’

Recently, on the Olympic Discovery Trail in the vicinity of Sequim/Port Angeles, an acquaintance of mine, who is a legal naturalized American citizen for more than 15 years, was verbally accosted by some youth yelling MAGA slogans. The youth yelled, “Go back to Mexico!”

This American tried to tell the youth that immigrants from Europe can also have darker skin tones and in fact this American citizen immigrated legally from a southern European Country to become an American citizen!

The youth then started yelling, “Go back to your own country!”

Why do Republicans put up with and seem to encourage this kind of abhorrent behavior? There seems to be a malignant cancer growing and metastasizing in the current Republican Party.

What happened to the “Party of Lincoln” who fought for all people’s rights?

Lewis Bennett

Port Angeles

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