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DOH and Acadia respond to proposed Lynnwood Methadone Clinic concerns

OLYMPIA, Wash., January 12, 2023— The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) stated in its official response addressing community concerns that there is no “administrative process” for residents to appeal its approval of a proposed Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) in Lynnwood. Also, Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell will not consider disciplinary action against Development & Business Services Director David Kleitsch nor any members of his staff for concealing the proposed opioid treatment facility from the public, the city council, and her office.

Responses to community concerns of a proposed opioid treatment center opening within 450 feet of the Alderwood Boys & Girls Club was released today by the DOH and Acadia Healthcare. The responses are to questions submitted by residents from the Public Hearing that took place on December 29, 2022, and a Lynnwood City Council Work Session on January 3, 2023.

Officially called Lynnwood Comprehensive Treatment Center (Lynnwood CTC), the facility is expected to provide Medication Assisted Treatment—with a focus on Methadone—on January 23 to initially 150 patients daily. The $7.5 billion industry juggernaut, Acadia, is Washington state’s largest OTP provider with eight other centers in operation.

Lynnwood CTC: Acadia Healthcare Community Responses  

Acadia’s three-page single-spaced document responding to community concerns addressed neighborhood security, patient volume, patient profiles, and site prospecting process.

According to the document, Acadia will employ a “security guard immediately prior to, during, and immediately following operating hours to discourage loitering at the facility or surrounding areas.”

The facility is expected to initially “dose” approximately 150 patients daily with treatment ending no later than 11:30 a.m. Patients utilizing this substance abuse service must be at least 18 years of age, addicted to opioids, and entered treatment voluntarily, according to Acadia Healthcare.

Patients will be educated to community standards to prevent loitering and those struggling with Opioid Use Disorder will be offered counseling and behavioral therapy, but not required.

The company expects most patients to have their own transportation; however, the nearest bus stop, located at 196th Street and Alderwood Mall Parkway, is approximately 0.3 miles (or six-minute walk) away for those utilizing public transportation.

New information from Acadia revealed that its regional director met with Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell and Assistant City Administrator Julie Moore on December 29, 2022, in which they discussed facilities services and safety concerns.

On January 11, the Lynnwood Times revealed that the Lynnwood Development & Business Services department issued a business license on December 7 and a Certificate of Occupancy on December 19 to Acadia that was concealed from residents. The mayor confirmed with the Lynnwood Times that she was also left in the dark by DBS Director David Kleitsch on this development which, in-turn, gave Acadia the green light to operate within the city of Lynnwood.

Currently, the mayor is not considering any disciplinary action against Director Kleitsch nor any members of his staff.

“Director Kleitsch and other employees did what was in their authority to do under the current code and based on the occupants claims to outreach, acted within their scope of work,” Mayor Frizzell replied in an email response to the Lynnwood Times inquiring if she will fire or ask for Dir. Kleitsch’s resignation. “There was not any abuse of power and no firings or resignations are warranted.”

Lynnwood CTC: WA DOH Community Responses  

The seven-page single-spaced DOH response to community concerns addressed the licensing process, including the purpose of the public hearing and community relations plan, and what actions the community can take to appeal the Department’s decision.

According to DOH, all OTP licensing approvals are final and cannot be appealed.

“There is not a State administrative process for the public to request further review of a licensing decision,” DOH stated in its document responding to community questions.

As of the date of this article, DOH has not made a decision in licensing the Lynnwood CTC. It is awaiting city licensing requirements to be met and outreach from Acadia to Snohomish County. As the proposed site location borders Snohomish County, majority of residential neighborhoods lie at the southeast-most part of District 3, represented by newly appointed County Councilman Strom Peterson, and District 4, represented by Snohomish County Council Chair Jared Mead.

During a staff report at its Administrative Session on December 13, Heidi Beazizo, Interim Chief of Staff/Senior Legislative Analyst, shared with the Snohomish County Council that she received a notice from the Department of Health of a proposed opioid treatment clinic in Lynnwood, and pursuant to RCW, is seeking comment no later than December 26, 2022, from the city and county in which the treatment program would be located.

The next day, December 14, during the Snohomish County Council’s General Legislative Session, councilmembers were informed that the DOH form for council comments also required input from the county council whether to restrict the capacity for the opioid program at the Lynnwood Comprehensive Treatment Center to 350. It was shared that the County Executive’s Office reached out to the City of Lynnwood for comments on the “site appropriateness” of the location moving it from Bothell, in which the city had yet to respond.

Action from this meeting was to ask for an extension of DOH to December 28 for a response by the County.

At the County Council’s December 28th General Legislative Meeting, after some discussion by council, it was agreed to wait on providing DOH a response “pending further outreach” by the city of Lynnwood. Julie Moore, Assistant City Administrator for Lynnwood, shared with Beazizo, County Council Chief of Staff, on December 27, that the city was approved for an extension by DOH of additional outreach on the proposed opioid treatment center. The council agreed to remain neutral on the proposed location and that it will wait on the County’s Executive Office’s input on the site’s need.

Regular Snohomish County Council Administrative and General Legislative meetings are scheduled weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively. As of January 12, 2023, no agendas for the most recent upcoming meetings have been posted.

Email addresses for Snohomish County Council members are as follows:

DOH confirmed that the purpose of its Public Hearing that took place on December 29 was to listen for comments that may indicate that the proposed OTP did not meet “minimum licensing requirements” and for residents to share their concerns for the agency to amend Acadia’s “community relations plan to mitigate those concerns.”

If approved an OTP license from DOH, concerns from stakeholders will continue to be worked through outreach by Acadia Healthcare and documented on its Community Relations Plan document.

Public Protest Planned for Saturday, January 14

Safe Lynnwood, a growing community group of at least 100 neighbors voicing concerns of an opioid treatment center opening next to the Alderwood Little League and the Alderwood Boys & Girls Club, has scheduled a community protest at 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 14. The group is inviting the public to meet at the site of the proposed opioid treatment center located at 2223 196th St SW in Lynnwood. After speeches by several speakers, including elected officials, organizers plan a short walk to Boys & Girls Club and other nearby businesses.

For more information, contact Vivian Dong at safeLynnwood@gmail.com.

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