As part of the Recovery Month activities, the Health Care Resource Center Methadone Clinic on Crescent Avenue
opened its doors on Thursday, Sept. 27, to let residents find out more about what they do.
Victoria Johnson, treatment center director, said they offer a valuable service to patients looking to beat an addiction to opiates and other drugs. Known as medication assisted treatment, Methadone is administered at the Chelsea facility to about 750 patients on a daily basis – and it’s a system that has seen many happy endings.
“One of the biggest things we’re up against is the misconception of what we do and the benefits of medication assisted treatment,” she said. “Also, when people stigmatize the patients, it hurts the community. It’s the biggest fight providers are always up against.”
The clinic has often been seen as a location that Chelsea doesn’t want, and hasn’t been in close connection with the community at times. However, Johnson said they treat many residents of Chelsea and the surrounding communities and they want to forge closer ties. She also said they already work closely with the HUB/COR program and with the Chelsea Police.
During Recover Month, she said she wanted to stress they are part of the solution to this epidemic.
“We have a lot of people who have recovered,” she said, meaning they have weaned themselves off of Methadone. “We try to get them to come back and talk to the counseling groups we run about their success. We want them to share about how life has been when they no longer need to be medicated. We also try to stay in the community and build strong connections. A lot of people don’t know how to get into treatment, and that’s the biggest question we have.”
A typical day at the clinic starts about 5:30 a.m. when the staff arrives and prepares for the first patients to come in at 6 a.m. Those patients are typically those that work or take care of children or elderly family members. Normally, they will take their does and be in and out in about 15 minutes. Dosing continues throughout the morning until 11 a.m.
Anyone using the treatment also has to come in for a counseling component two hours per month, and 15 counselors are on hand to run group counseling for a variety of types.
Most of the patients pay for the service with MassHealth, and some insurances like Blue Cross/Blue Shield pay for the treatment as well.
Typically, Johnson said, patients will come in and stabilize using the Methadone treatment. That takes about two weeks to two months.
She also said they have very strict policies on loitering outside the clinic. She said if they find patients loitering or causing issues outside, they will call the police. Any problems with law enforcement can cause the patient to be removed from treatment.
“They’re not causing those problems here,” she said. “I always say to people, if they see it, call the police. Our goal is to get people into treatment, stabilize them, and set them up for success.”
Counselors and staff at the Health Care Resource Center Methadone clinic on Crescent Avenue pause for a picture during their open house last Thursday, Sept. 27, as part of Recovery Month. Directors said they hope to build strong ties with the community and overcome the misconceptions about what they do.