Home > All Posts, NIMBYism > Letter to SANFORD TOWN COUNCIL

Letter to SANFORD TOWN COUNCIL

Dear town council:

I am writing to you all in regards to your ordinance to “essentially” zone out methadone clinics in your town. After reading many articles on your towns moratorium and subsequent plan to zone methadone clinics, it became very obvious to me that your council has spent an tremendous amount of time on planning how to keep a methadone clinic out, but has spent NO time actually researching methadone treatment. Your council, like so many towns in Maine recently, has acted out of fear and ignorance instead of  actually learning what methadone treatment is all about.

For instance, in the a recent article it states that your ordinance calls for methadone clinics to be licensed. Does your council realize that methadone treatment is the most regulated medical care in the United States? Does your council realize that clinics already MUST be licensed by the Maine Office of Substance Abuse (OSA), The Pharmacy and Nursing boards of Maine, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA), The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). Methadone clinics ALSO have to be accredited either by the Joint Commission or CARF. This includes a licensing visit from OSA and an accreditation visit from JHACO or CARF once every year and then once every two years? organization called

In one article one of your council members stated that no one was being denied treatment with methadone because Doctors can already prescribe methadone. Unfortunately, unless a Doctor has taken the time to become a fully licensed methadone clinic (with all that the above paragraph entails), doctors can NOT prescribe methadone to patients for the treatment of opiate addiction. There are no Doctors (not working in a methadon e clinic) in Maine that are licensed to offer methadone to patients seeking it for the treatment of opiate addiction.

Also, is your town council aware that Rockland, Maine tried to enact a proposal VERY SIMILAR to the zoning ordinance draft your council has up for approval and the town was faced with a FEDERAL lawsuit? The lawsuit was later settled out of court, but only after Rockland spent a lot of time and money trying to fight the losing battle of keeping the clinic out. In Rockland the towns insurance told them to allow the clinic or they would not cover the costs of the lawsuits. Costs ended up coming out of the towns FUNDS and we now have a clinic.The towns pay for their own court fees, lawyers fees for both the town and the clinic….and they still end up with a clinic. Below are links to news articles and court papers regarding this case, as well as links to other towns across the country that tried similar ordinances and failed. I can provide more links, to more cases. You may be able to pass=2 0the ordinance without any trouble, but if a methadone clinic decides Sanford is a good place to locate, they can (and will) fight for that right in court.  They will also WIN.

New MMT Clinic Approved in Maine After Long Battle

After years of controversy, hearings, and protests, Rockland, Maine has decided to approve opening of a methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) clinic. The City Council’s favorable vote came nearly a year after Turning Tides Inc. sued the city, alleging that it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and other laws by restricting the clinic to an outlying, less accessible area.

A sharp increase in the number of Mainer’s addicted to heroin and OxyContin prompted state health officials20to support the opening of new clinics that dispense methadone to curb addicts’ craving for opium-based drugs. Opponents of the clinic had held public demonstrations expressing, among other things, doubts about the driving abilities of patients on methadone.

Source: Maine Town Council approves methadone clinic. Associated Press. January 10, 2006.

LINKS to COURT CASE MEDIA:

http://www.med.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Cohen/2005/DMC_07122005_2-05cv58_Fuller-McM_v_Rockland_AFFIRMED_08152005.pdf

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3898/is_200212/ai_n9163247

http://www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/harm/10785prs20050303.html

http://www.jointogether.org/news/headlines/inthenews/2005/maine-legislators-support-and.html

http://www.northjersey.com/news/22245224.html

It is also quite obvious to me that your council isn’t even sure what methadone treatment IS. Has your council taken the time to talk with methadone patients in your area that are traveling for treatment? Have you talked to families who have active addicts that CAN’T get treatment because it is too far away? Are youyour opinions about methadone treatment on stories in the media and the Maine rumor mill? The fears of your council and your town members are rooted in UNFOUNDED FEAR. Perhaps members of your council should stop by the Metha done clinics in Portland or Westbrook and really SEE for themselves that there is little to fear? Your Police Chief should take the time to talk to other Police Chiefs (in towns with clinics).  He would see that Westbrook’s, South Portland’s, Portlands, Bangor’s and Rockland police chiefs have had NO problems with the clinics and actually support them.  There are more police calls to WALMART than the clinics in these towns. Here are links to articles about what REALLY happens when a methadone clinic moves in to a town including: reduction in crime and rates of Hepatitis and HIV (which are on the RISE in Maine):
basing

Methadone maintenance: FEARS UNFOUNDED

http://www.downeast.com/Down-East-Magazine/July-2005/Methadone-Madness/

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE3DE1730F934A15757C0A965958260

http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=16040

Fears of Methadone Program Unfounded

Roanoke, Virginia, residents who feared that a new methadone clinic would increase crime in their community have not had those concerns realized. In fact, crime in the neighborhood has actually decreased, the Newport News Daily Press reported January 29, 2006.

Police calls to the Roanoke Treatment Center numbered 34 last year, but most of those were for burglar alarms that were accidentally set off. By comparison, a nearby business had 49 police calls. Total police calls in the surrounding neighborhood fell from 6,956 in 2004 to 6,601 in 2005. Furthermore, police said they have not found any take-home doses of methadone being sold on local streets.

“I don’t even know they’re up there,” said local community resident Della Miller, one of many homeowners who worried about the program opening a year ago. However, a lawsuit seeking to close the center is still pending in court.

Reference: Virginia Methadone Program Causes Few Problems. JoinTogether.org. February 3, 2006.

For those of you interested in learning more about methadone treatment and how it works please read from the below links. Right now the UN (United Nations) and the WHO (World Health Organization) are working to bring methadone treatment ALL OVER THE WORLD to areas ravaged by addiction and HIV. Methadone treatment has proven itself as a cost effective, reliable and important form of medical care. Last year the WHO added methadone (for opiate addiction treatment) to it’s “ESSENTIAL MEDICATIONS” list.  How ironic that in the richest and most medically advanced country in the wor ld, we are still refusing to help our own opiate addicts!

http://www.counselormagazine.com/content/view/118/63/

FROM LINK ABOVE:
The Good: Clinical and cost effectiveness
No addiction treatment modality has been more extensively and rigorously evaluated than methadone maintenance. Nearly every major health policy body has reviewed the evidence on MMT, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse, American Medical Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, National Institute on Health Consensus Panel, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. These collective reviews conclude that orally administered methadone can be provided for a prolonged period at stable dosages (without the escalation in tolerance seen with morphine or heroin), with a high degree of long-term safety, and without significant effects on psychomotor or cognitive functioning. These reviews also confirm that MMT delivered at optimal dosages by competent practitioners: 1) decreases the death rate of opiate-dependent individuals by as much as 50 percent; 2) reduces transmission of HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and other infections; 3) eliminates or reduces illicit opiate use (by minimizing narcotic craving and blocking the euphoric effects of other narcotics); 4) reduces criminal activity; 5) enhances productive behavior via employment and academic/vocational functioning; 6) improves global health and social functioning; and 7) is cost-effective.

http://www.aidsmap.com/en/news/CB2E38F0-1580-4011-8383-1F31413F8A45.asp

Methadone included, tenofovir excluded, from new WHO essential drugs list

=0 9

Keith Alcorn, Monday, July 04, 2005

Methadone and the opiate substitute buprenorphine have been added to the World Health Organization’sEssential Drugs list, it was announced on Friday, ending nearly two years of lobbying by treatment advocates for inclusion of the drugs on the list.

Inclusion of drugs in the essential drugs list is intended to signal that international experts conside r the availability of a drug to be essential to deliver basic health care, and national governments are expected to take note of the recommendation when making policy.

http://vodpod.com/watch/697802-finding-normal?pod=armme

Finally, I would like to address Darlene Stromstad personally. As the CEO of a hospital I am especially appalled at your contribution in this ordinance. It is your JOB to bring quality healthcare for those in your community!  There is a large population of people in your community that need healthcare, have an opportunity to be given that care close to home and YOU ARE DOING EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER TO PREVENT IT?   You (better than anyone in the council) should know what harm comes from discriminating against those with illness causes! Especially folks with an illness that has a cost effective and easily administered treatment. Methadone treatment returns those afflicted with active opiate addiction to stability and normalcy. As the CEO of a healthcare organization, it is your JOB to bring medical care to your community when it is needed. It is your JOB to make sure that the people in your community understand=2 0the importance of that treatment. It is your JOB to fight ignorance surrounding HEALTHCARE, not to add to it. It is your JOB to thoroughly RESEARCH any healthcare proposals for your community, and bring that education to your patients and their families. You have failed to do ALL of these things for the opiate addicted people and their loved ones in your community. What’s worse, you continue to add to the stigma and ignorance surrounded this disease!

Please consider that your forcing people that have lived in your area all their lives to seek healthcare somewhere else. Their time of need has come and your turning a blind eye! I have lived in Maine all my life, as have my parents, grand parents and GREAT grandparents. I have always loved Maine. I have never been ashamed of our quiet, safe way of life but I am now….imagine MAINER’S turning away their own when they need us the most?

I work every day as a medical technologist: helping to diagnose infection, disease and illness in hematology, coagulation, urinanalysis, histology, microbiology and clinical chemistry. I also prepare blood and blood products for transfusion in a blood bank. I have a degree and spend most of my day looking under a microscope, calling critical values to save lives and talking to doctors. I am an opiate addict and I am a METHADONE PATIENT. How ironic that you believe methadone treatment is so offensive that it doesn’t belong in your community, but you probably have numerous employees at your hospital who utilize that treatment?

Lastly, to the entire council: I am a mother of a thirteen year old. I go to Field Hockey games and converse with other parents. I am a medical professional and everyday I come in contact with people from all walks of life and hopefully help them live healthier through my work. You actually believe I shouldn’t be allowed near schools, churches and Day Care facilities?

After work I go to the supermarket and pick up dinner for that night. I might even talk to someone while waiting in line. I own my own home, pay my own bills and I have two cats. I find it offensive (not to mention very ignorant) that your town council actually believes I would be more threatening to your community going into a building to get medical care, than I would be interacting with one of you at my daughters school, in line at the grocery store or at the hospit al where I work?

That’s the thing about many of us “methadone patients” we blend in well and you would never know we are “one of them”….because really we are just ONE OF YOU.

I apologize for any grammatical errors.  I have spent two full days writing and re-writing this letter and finally decided to just “let it go”.

Thank you for listening.

Kristan Hilchey
Thomaston MAINE

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Categories: All Posts, NIMBYism
  1. December 10, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Unfortunately, George, I have tried SEVERAL times to get the MECLU involved and they don’t answer my emails or phone calls.

    Apparently they don’t find this important enough. I bet if ONE of their kids needed treatment and couldn’t get it, it would be important ENOUGH!

  2. George K. Clarke
    December 4, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    KEEP ME POSTED WITH WHAT IS HAPPENING.

    I remember being involved in the “Turning Tide” siting of a methadone clinic some time ago through “Village Soup. There was a lot or work involved. I did post information on the costs involved in what is usually a non winable law suit because of the ADA. Now there is this new proposed clinic situation with a recent change where they will allow a clinic but under more strict circumstances. This is somewhat of a victory provided there is (hopefully)an available place under the limited zoning change.

    “As a result, under the new ordinance, mental health and abuse clinics — such as methadone treatment centers — would be a “conditionally permitted use” provided they are not established within 2,500 feet of any of Sanford’s schools and 1,000 feet of any of the town’s parks.

    Furthermore, an applicant must demonstrate at the time of application that the proposed clinic would not be established within 1,000 feet of a “day care, Family Day Care or other child care provider.” Such a stipulation is the ordinance’s acknowledgment that day care centers and services frequently open, close or relocate and are not as fixed in their locations as schools and parks.

    The ordinance states that mental health and abuse centers should also be located in areas accessible to public transportation. The document also asserts that it is in the town’s best interest to “protect areas,” such as downtown Sanford and the Village of Springvale, “where efforts are currently being made to stimulate new business investment and encourage focused and planned economic growth.”

    Surely, it would be best to scrap the law entirely via legal action, but, I believe it is to the advantage of the still suffering addict to have a clinic open up as soon as possible.

    Was the ACLU in Maine involved at all in either sitings?

    George Clarke varnua@aol.com riveredgerecord@aol.com

  3. October 4, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Thank you for providing this information which will be helpful in discussion and deliberation. Joe Hanslip

    This has been my ONE response to my letter. GEE WHIZ, thanks!

  4. October 3, 2008 at 2:50 am

    Please see other posts regarding this town’s change in attitude of late. Their immediate response was “we don’t want THOSE people HERE”….which is exactly what they later claimed they “didn’t mean to keep clinics out entirely” because they have since realized that saying that is discriminatory.

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