Methadone clinic proposed for Northeast Kingdom

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(Host) State Senator Vincent Illuzzi has proposed a plan to establish a methadone clinic in the Northeast Kingdom. Until now, state efforts to start a second clinic to treat heroin addicts have been unsuccessful.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) The Essex-Orleans Senator says he want to tie efforts by the North Country Hospital in Newport to establish a dialysis clinic to attempts by the state to open a second center for methadone treatment. The Legislature is considering a loan to the hospital to help pay for dialysis treatment for patients in the Northeast Kingdom. Illuzzi says he’ll ask lawmakers to turn the loan into a grant if the hospital agrees to also host a methadone clinic.

(Illuzzi) “Some might expect that it will generate a lot of controversy. But one good deed deserves another. I think if the community sees the General Assembly step up to the plate and say, here’s a half million dollars to care for some of your neediest population, then the community collectively will say that we should take a second look at treating another group of people who are in need of medical treatment. And that is heroin addicts who live in our communities and go to our schools and are otherwise neighbors”.

(Zind) Illuzzi says he doesn’t like the idea of the mobile methadone clinic the state has proposed to serve people in the Northeast Kingdom. He feels a fixed clinic will provide better treatment.

Vermont Health Commissioner Doctor Paul Jarris says the state is interested in exploring a clinic in Newport, but Jarris reiterated the Governor’s position that the community must first approve of the idea.

(Jarris) “We’ve also made it clear to Senator Illuzzi that we would not be interested or take part in forcing something on the community but really would have to go through the whole process of meeting and making sure the community was comfortable with the treatment site.”

(Zind) Jarris says the head of North Country Hospital has told him the hospital will consider Illuzzi’s plan. Jarris says the state will continue efforts to establish a mobile methadone clinic. He says the mobile facility would simply go to another part of the state where treatment services are needed.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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