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BREAKING: Lynnwood mayor requests halt to opioid treatment center

LYNNWOOD, Wash., January 17, 2023—Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell sends official request to Secretary of Health for Washington State, Dr. Umair A. Shah, to delay the approval of a proposed opioid treatment center near the Alderwood Boys & Girls Club.

The letter states: “I ask that no approval be granted from the Department of Health until steps are properly taken by WCHS, INC. to fulfill the Community Relations Plan, meet with stakeholders and address any identified concerns as noted in the DOH’s certifications steps for proposed programs, and collaborate with our Lynnwood Police Department on a community safety plan.”

The request does not ask for Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to deny approval of an Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) license for Acadia Healthcare but rather pause the approval process until proper fulfillment of the required Community Relations Plan and a collaboration for a safety plan with law enforcement.

A delay, which isn’t the preferred option by residents who live near the proposed site, may provide the time needed by the City and Acadia Healthcare to come up with a solution.

Vivian Dong, spokeswoman for Safe Lynnwood representing hundreds of residents opposing the location of the treatment facility, shared that the OTP need not be near the local Boys & Girls Club.

“If Acadia wants to regain the trust of the community, we urge them to do things correctly from the start,” Dong told the Lynnwood Times when asked to provide a statement to the mayor’s letter.

She continued, “As a stakeholder group, we are offering to work with the City and Acadia to identify appropriate locations for the clinic that takes into account the needs and concerns of the community. We are willing to assist you in gathering and organizing community comments and concerns early in the search process and work with the Lynnwood City Council to help vet any potential locations.”

The letter was sent last week by Mayor Frizzell to elevate the “serious concerns” related to processing of the OTP licensing to Dr. Shah. Acadia Healthcare has stated that it intends to open the proposed Lynnwood Comprehensive Treatment Center, located at 2322 196th Street SW, on January 30, 2023.

Mayor Frizzell affirmed that she first become aware of the opioid treatment center on December 13, 2022. In the letter she expressed her disappointment that, as the City’s Chief Executive, she was not contacted directly by the DOH and had to learn of the proposed facility through the local news.

“The OTP licensure process only requires the applicant to contact the ‘city legislative authority and/or county legislative authority’, which I believe is an inherently flawed process. Noticing should include the City and County Administration as well as the legislative bodies,” Frizzell wrote.

She shared the incompleteness of Acadia’s Community Relations Plan submitted to DOH and how it embellished “the level of engagement conducted” by stakeholders.

“The fact that the DOH accepted this as a complete Community Relations Plan looks as though DOH is just checking a box and not truly committed to fulfilling the intent of the requirement,” the letter reads.

The process was further criticized for its lack of transparency to obtain an OTP license by scheduling a public hearing during the Christmas and New Year period.

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