W. Ron Allen

W. Ron Allen

Guest column: Medication-assisted treatment clinic plans described

I would like to take a moment to provide a factual context for the Jamestown S’Klallam’s proposed medication-assisted treatment project.

There has been misinformation circulating on social media regarding the collaborative effort to build a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic in our community.

Plans are still in the very early stages.

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, along with Olympic Medical Center, Jefferson Healthcare and local law enforcement all recognize how destructive and challenging the opioid epidemic has been to both native and non-native residents in Clallam County.

In fact, Clallam County had the highest per capita opioid overdose and death rate in the state of Washington.

This situation is unacceptable and must be addressed.

Our tribe’s intention is to build a clinic that addresses this problem and serves the health care needs of the North Olympic Peninsula community, becoming a place for healing, a place that helps patients become healthy and which will be a vibrant part of our communities.

The clinic will serve Clallam and Jefferson counties and will utilize a comprehensive treatment strategy that will include physical, mental and dental services.

We firmly feel that our tribe has demonstrated its ability to fill essential health care gaps when it comes to addressing community needs. Currently, the Jamestown Family Health Clinic provides health care to over 17,000 patients with upward of 55,000 visits per year.

The Healing Campus is a collaboration between our tribe, Olympic Medical Center, Jefferson Healthcare and Peninsula Behavioral Health which includes a Phase I MAT Clinic to be operated by the Jamestown Tribe and Phase II (yet to be funded) a 16-bed inpatient evaluation and treatment psych hospital that will be managed by OMC.

The goal of the Phase I MAT Clinic is to decrease opioid overdoses and the illegal diversion of prescription drugs into the community.

The Sequim location is a 20-acre parcel adjacent to U.S. Highway 101. It was chosen for its central location to those traveling locally and from the east and west boundaries of the North Olympic Peninsula. It is on an existing bus line, near existing health care services, and separated from residential neighborhoods. The property provides adequate space for current and future health care needs and is zoned for medical use.

The tribe is designing a 15,000-square-foot building to house the MAT clinic that is accessible, aesthetically consistent with Jamestown’s properties, functionally flexible, and designed to optimize the healing potential for the patients it will serve.

The MAT clinic is not an inpatient facility. Strict Drug Enforcement Administration guidelines do not permit loitering at a MAT program facility.

The Healing Campus will offer the best opportunity for sustaining recovery by providing chemical dependency counseling, behavioral health, primary care and childcare assistance.

The MAT program will provide transportation to the facility for those who need it in Clallam and Jefferson counties, particularly if the treatment may ultimately save their life. This service is not provided within the Olympic Peninsula counties.

We intend to establish strict rules to prevent loitering after their appointment.

This crisis is an existing problem in our own community and we intend to help solve it.

The opioid epidemic threatens our community’s long-term health. Children are traumatized by their parents’ addictions, families are devastated by the senseless loss of life, and crime rates ultimately increase. These are serious conditions that need to be addressed.

An uninformed reactionary response to the opioid epidemic further stigmatizes addiction and pushes people away from seeking the help they want and need.

Our tribe has great pride in any programs, services and business operations we pursue. We firmly feel that we, who have lived in this community for hundreds of years, care about all needs including enhancing our economy, education, housing and quality comprehensive health services.

We always embrace these community challenges with respect, responsibility, integrity and professionalism.

W. Ron Allen is tribal chairman/CEO of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

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