Brent Simcosky, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s health services director, hopes a forum of their own on a proposed Medical-Assisted Treatment facility can help alleviate concerns/misinformation.
Simcosky was one of several civic and health officials in attendance at the City of Sequim’s forum on the tribe’s proposed facility on July 29 with about 500 people in attendance.
After hearing from residents last week, Simcosky said there’s a lot of fear for the facility “based on misinformation.”
“The last thing we want to do is make it unsafe for folks in Sequim,” he said.
The tribe hosts its meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, in the Guy Cole Event Center in Carrie Blake Park, 202 N. Blake Ave. The forum was moved from Blyn to the City of Sequim because of the expected turnout.
The tribe’s proposed two-phase MAT facility and an inpatient psychiatric evaluation and treatment facility, called a Healing Campus, would dispense daily doses of methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol in a 15,000-square-foot building that could grow to about 25,000 square feet, tribal officials said.
The tribe, Olympic Medical Center and Jefferson Healthcare applied for and received $7.2 million for phase one from the state’s capital budget application, and tribal officials plan to seek the remainder of the facility’s funding in the 2020 legislative session.
Simcosky said the tribe will use about $3 million of its own funds for phase one as well.
He said patients would be self-referred and not as residents described in the July 29 forum as “hardcore addicts in downtown Seattle.”
Simcosky said the biggest misnomer he’s heard is that the facility will grow up to 600 beds.
“We’re only going to see 250 patients but that’s going to take a couple of years,” he said.
“We’ll do intakes and select the right people for self-referral. If any problems arise, we can fix them.
We’ll work out a mitigation plan with the city, (and) put tracking badges on people. We can do all kinds of things.”
Simcosky said they’ll likely only see about 20 patients when they begin services with some receiving free treatment and others on Medicaid and private insurances.
Patients will only come from Clallam and Jefferson County, he said.
On Aug. 8, Simcosky said tribal staff and leaders will give an approximate 20-minute presentation with leaders from other stakeholders like OMC speaking.
“We’re asking people to hear us out,” Simcosky said. “If they disagree with what we’re doing, I get it. At least disagree with the facts and not some perceived thing.”
He said the meeting is an opportunity to hear from leaders like Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict and if they think crime will increase with the facility in place.
As previously reported, management for the tribe’s facility features an agreement with Olympic Medical Center to operate the psychiatric facility, as well as potential agreements to collaborate with Jefferson Healthcare, Forks Community Hospital and Peninsula Behavioral Health.
Simcosky said tribal leaders have spoken to local health care organizations about a possible facility for one-and-a-half-years and they seemed supportive to help stop the opioid epidemic.
In the last few weeks, he’s led talks about the proposed facility with the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce, Sequim Sunrise Rotary and Sequim Association of Realtors, and welcomes opportunities to speak to other groups.
For Thursday’s meeting, he said each person can ask a question and/or comment tentatively for two minutes so long as they are respectful.
From the city’s forum, several questions were asked about the logistics of the facility.
As for why the tribe isn’t building in Blyn, Simcosky said there’s not as much property there as people think and it isn’t zoned for healthcare.
“It took about a year of design to get the hotel there without all sorts of problems, he said.
As for why Sequim, Simcosky said there are multiple reasons — access to water, sewer and Internet along with medical resources and staffing from the tribe’s clinic on Fifth Avenue.
He said another key piece was that the city had already zoned the area for healthcare services.
“We didn’t know we were going to buy this property but it was zoned for health care and the owner dropped their price $600,000,” he said. “We thought it was an opportunity.”
Despite most in attendance at Monday’s forum opposed to the tribe’s facility, Simcosky said he feels there are just as many people in favor of the project as at the forum.
“We can build it, but we want people to feel comfortable and safe,” he said. “We’ll prove it once we open it. We’d like more people to feel comfortable now though.”
Tribal officials said construction tentatively begins on the project following the city’s application and permitting process in spring 2020.
Simcosky said when the tribe purchased the land they didn’t imagine it’d be in a location people wouldn’t OK with placing the facility.
For more information on the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, visit jamestowntribe.org or call the clinic at 360-683-5900.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.