GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis Planning Commission gathered with members of the public in the Gallipolis Municipal Building at Third Avenue Tuesday Sept. 19 evening to discuss the potential of placing a non-residential drug abuse treatment center at 76 Vine Street.
The treatment center would potentially be situated in a neighborhood district zone.
“We operate non-intensive outpatient offices in a program that addresses substance use disorder,” said Groups Recover Together Executive Director Jeremy Carpenter. “We do counseling on-site. There is no medication on-site. We do not dispense medication.”
The majority of discussion taken place was between members of the public in a packed room and the Groups Recover Together representatives.
“Our closest office in Chillicothe has somewhere between 70 patients to 100,” said Carpenter. “That’s on the larger end of our (locations)…Patients come in once per week. They are to see their counselor in a group setting and also to have the ability to see that counselor as individuals as much as they need…The group is mandated. So, our physician will prescribe medication Suboxone and the only way they can receive that is if they attend group.”
Drug screens are given on-site to find what is in the client’s system. One member of the crowd asked is a recovery treatment worker would watch the patients and Carpenter replied no. He said temperature was taken from the urinary sample as well as other measures to avoid a false sample.
Clients prescribed Suboxone would need to take the prescription to a local pharmacy to be filled at another location separate from the treatment facility. The amount of Suboxone to be prescribed at a time would be dependent upon need. The max of the Groups Recover Together Suboxone prescription Carpenter said would be used was around 16 milligrams for a seven day period.
“The seven days keeps retention high because they have to come back to get medication,” said Carpenter. “…We take the flexibility that we have to be able to have physicians come in and the counseling staff…We’ve taken the best of both worlds and added an administrative staff that deals with the (legal portion of setting up a facility) and now we’re bringing in a physician staff and all they do is treat patients.”
Suboxone from a pharmacy would be paid for through the patient’s insurance agreements. The facility would receive its money self-paid by patients. Groups Recover Together is working on an arrangement with Medicaid to meet financial needs. For the week’s counseling and physician costs, a patient will pay $65. Roughly 15 to 20 patients would come into the facility a day.
Members of the public expressed concerns if there would be jumps in crime with the facility and one woman cited a study she read where she said there was an increase in crime with a rehabilitation center added to an unspecified area. Carpenter said he would be interested to see the study to verify what kind of treatment center it was as the type of centers in the study were not specified.
Mindy Caldwell said she had done some of her own research in an attempt to get a better understanding of Groups Recover Together. She said she called various city groups and police departments where Groups Recover Together facilities were placed. According to her, the police and city groups spoke well of the recovery facilities. She felt treatment facilities needed placed in areas that needed it.
“We can’t say all (addicts) are terrible because they aren’t,” said Caldwell. “There are people who have made some bad choices and gotten in a bad spot and we should all come together and help them. Maybe not in that building (the Vine location). I think we need to figure out how to do that and what we’re doing isn’t working. The point of this is to figure out the best location.”
One man who said he lives near the proposed Vine Street location said he absolutely did not want the treatment facility there for fear of having drug users in his neighborhood. City Manager Gene Greene, also a member of the commission, said he did not want to single out a business or model and that he was concerned moving a treatment facility into the city may bring more addicts to move permanently in the area. Concerns about traffic in the Vine Street area were also brought up.
Carpenter said Groups Recover Together were open to another proposed location for the proposed facility and hoped for some suggestions. He said that the company would travel to areas where they felt treatment demand was highest. Carpenter said he felt the community should ask itself how it wanted to address the opioid problem and what treatment should look like for it.
Ultimately, the commission voted to table the issue for another time and speak among itself.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.