A new clinic that will provide methadone to treat heroin and prescription opioid addiction could open this fall.
CODA, a Portland-based drug treatment provider, is negotiating a lease with Terry Lowenberg for a former real estate office on South Holladay Drive off U.S. Highway 101.
The clinic could treat up to 300 people, said Tim Hartnett, CODA’s executive director. Along with methadone, people could receive other federally approved medication-assisted treatment for drug abuse, such as buprenorphine or naltrexone.
“We help people in the deep end of the pool,” Hartnett said at a City Council meeting Monday night. “We help people who not only have drug and alcohol problems, but are tangled up in poverty, tangled up in the criminal justice system, the child welfare system. We work with a very complicated caseload.”
The Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization, which oversees the Oregon Health Plan in Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties, has sought a local methadone treatment option because of the high cost of paying for people to get help in the Portland metro area.
Andy Mendenhall, the chief medical officer at Central City Concern, which works on homeless, poverty and addiction issues in Portland, said there is a lack of treatment in rural areas. Hospitalizations associated with opioid abuse in the three counties are well above the statewide average.
“Part of the opportunity presented by the CODA continuum here in the Seaside community is to provide a hub for patients to receive treatment,” he said.
“I see an opportunity to close the treatment gap, and allow people to get treatment locally, and that’s good for those individuals, their families and the community.”
When the prospect for a methadone clinic on the North Coast surfaced last summer, city leaders in Astoria and Warrenton recognized the need but were cool to the idea of a location in their cities.
The new clinic in Seaside does not need approval from the City Council, Mayor Jay Barber said.
City Councilor Dana Phillips said she is “proud of CODA” and the work they do. The provider has 40 years of experience in treating opioid abuse.
But some in the city are concerned the clinic might be unwelcome and add to public safety needs.
Brian Owen, the executive director of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce, said he anticipated “a lot of questions and misstatements and information that is not read completely through” from people in the community.
Fire Chief Joey Daniels asked if the clinic will lead to an increase in call loads. “We’re already limited in capabilities with our resource and any call is a taxing call already,” he said.
Seaside Police Lt. Bruce Holt called CODA’s plan “intriguing,” but sought more information on how law enforcement would work with the clinic “to get help for people we come across.”
Hartnett said emergency calls from the clinic would be more than offset by fewer drug overdoses and other drug-related emergencies.