Allied Health Service’s Medford methadone clinic new location opens with little fanfare

From the Medford Mail Tribune, September 11, 2013

A methadone clinic that was forced to move from East Main Street has set up shop on Murphy Road, catching some residents by surprise.

Medford 9 11 2013“I did not know they had moved,” said Jessica Meza, who brought her 6-month-old son, Victor, to the pediatric clinic across the street. “I did know there were complaints at the old location.”

The clinic, run by Allied Health Service, serves 500 patients a day. It was forced to move because it was too close to a day care center, but Allied found a new home at 777 Murphy Road.

Eds. Note – Allied Health Services is a proxy of CRC Health Group, one of the largest national providers and promoters of methadone as a substitution therapy for heroin addiction and for chronic pain typically associated with end-stage cancer.

After a citizen complaint in 2012, city officials discovered that the clinic was within 1,000 feet of the Sunshine Day Care Center on Portland Avenue, a violation of Oregon Revised Statute 430.590.

Meza, a White City resident, said she has mixed feelings about the clinic’s location but didn’t think it would deter her from going to a pediatric clinic that she said provides great care.

“I’m not going to move my baby to a new doctor because they have moved across the street,” said Meza.

She said she’s got mixed feelings about methadone, saying some of her friends have taken it.

“Some of them just are doing it to get high,” Meza said.

On the other hand, many people might benefit from the medication, she said.

“I like to think most people are good,” she said.

Dr. Jim Shames, medical director of Jackson County Health and Human Services, said the new location should be less of a problem to the surrounding neighborhood.

“I think the fact the facility is so much bigger is already making a big difference,” he said.

At the new location, twice as many nurses dispense medications, including methadone and a newer drug known as buprenorphine.

As a result, patients don’t have a chance to loiter, Shames said.

Sidewalks lead directly from the bus stop to the clinic, and a security guard ensures that patients don’t hang around outside or cause problems.

“A lot of people’s worst fears are not going to come to fruition,” Shames said.

Most patients do not get a “high” feeling after taking the medication, which is designed to cut down on the craving for opiates, he said.

“Many patients say they finally feel normal,” Shames said.

Kim Sanderson, regional vice president of Allied, said in a prepared statement that the new location was necessary to continue to provide addiction treatment for the Medford area.

“We look forward to continued collaboration with our community partners to help those in need,” she said.

Several local residents said they were surprised to learn the clinic was in the neighborhood — in spite of media reports that publicized the impending move.

“I haven’t noticed any difference,” said Linda Gossman, a 67-year-old grandmother who was aware only that the clinic was planning to move nearby. “I just moved here in June, and I didn’t know at that time that they would be moving here. Had I known, I may not have moved here because of my grandbabies.”

Gossman said that despite her reservations, she understands that the treatment program is important.

Bettegay Damourakis walks around her neighborhood almost every day but didn’t realize the clinic had moved in and hasn’t noticed any of the patients.

“I haven’t even noticed it,” she said.