(Host) After a lengthy search, operators of two mobile methadone clinics in the Northeast Kingdom say they’ve found a St. Johnsbury site for one of the facilities. A second mobile clinic would be located in Newport.
The clinics’ operators say they still must to finalize arrangements in St. Johnsbury, but it’s now possible the two clinics could begin dispensing methadone as early as April.
Until now, Northeast Kingdom residents seeking methadone treatment for heroin addiction have had to make daily trips to clinics in Massachusetts.
Newport Selectman Elwood Guyette says the clinics’ operators and state health officials did a good job responding to the town’s concerns about the facility. But Guyette says town officials want the mobile unit to visit other locations instead of staying only in Newport.
(Guyette) “We were hoping that that’s what was going to happen. Haven’t heard much lately about that, but it would be nice if was going to travel around. If it’s mobile, it needs to be moving and not just in one spot.”
(Host) Local officials are concerned that unless the mobile clinic goes to other towns, people will come from outside the area for treatment.
Alan Aiken is the Project Director of Vermont Behavioral Health Services which is operating the clinics. Aiken says the clinics will start by serving a limited number of patients in Newport and St. Johnsbury.
(Aiken) “Once that’s stabilized and everybody has a level of confidence about how things are going, then we’ll take a look at other needs in other towns.”
(Host) Aiken says other possible places the clinics could travel to include Hardwick, Danville and Barton.
When the mobile clinics were first announced, it was expected they’d be in operation by last fall. Aiken says the process of receiving state approval and finding acceptable sites has been time consuming.