Community members continue to voice their concerns about the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) facility as decisions about its future draw near.
During City of Sequim council reports on Sept. 28 at the end of the meeting, Mayor William Armacost said he’s continued to receive concerns from “a variety of different constituents” about the facility slated for construction for South Ninth Avenue.
He asked city staff about an agreement between the city and tribe about transportation to and from the facility.
“Does that mean the tribe can provide transportation to bring patients to Sequim from Seattle or other areas?” Armacost asked.
City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said the city doesn’t have the ability to regulate who visits a particular doctor’s office.
“There’s nothing we can do as a local jurisdiction; they can conduct business in the manner they see fit,” she said.
“One of the reasons why the tribe appealed the mitigated determination of non-significance (MDNS environmental review application) is because they felt the city overstepped. The only reason the condition still exists is because the tribe is volunteering to do many of those things.”
Armacost said the clinic “creates a different unknown component (from other doctor’s offices) and that’s where the fear and concern has been forwarded onto me.”
Sequim Police Chief Sheri Crain said she’s spoken with tribal leaders and police chiefs in other areas with opioid use disorder clinics, and that the transportation plan is that those who need assistance are transported back to where they were transported from, so as not to overwhelm local transit systems.
“It’s a point-to-point (system), not a house-to-clinic and back to the house,” Crain said. “You have a place you pick them up and take them back to there.”
In an obtained email sent to city councilors, Brent Simcosky, director of health services for the tribe, replied, “we will NOT be ‘busing’ or providing transportation to any patient outside of this area. We have said this since day one.”
Simcosky added that the tribe will provide transportation via a small van to patients in the two counties where “transportation is a barrier to service.” Clinic clients be required to take the van back to their pickup point with no exceptions, he wrote.
Simcosky said patients are all pre-screened and accepted prior to receiving services, and added that the tribe’s Fifth Avenue clinic providing opioid abuse disorder treatment is full.
As of Tuesday morning, no decision has been made on the clinic’s application. City staff said decisions are expected on court motions from all parties prior to any potential hearing with hearing examiner Phil Olbrechts to consider six appeals on the clinic.