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WA Department of Health issues license for Lynnwood opioid clinic

LYNNWOOD, Wash., January 26, 2023—Today, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) approved the Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) license for the controversial Lynnwood Comprehensive Treatment Center located at 2322 196th S.W. St., that is 433 feet away for the Alderwood Boys & Girls Club. The clinic is scheduled to open on January 30, 2023.

“We are deeply disappointed by DOH decision to approve a certificate for Acadia’s proposed location in Lynnwood next to the Alderwood Boys & Girls Club, despite the company’s troubling history and deception demonstrated in their application,” Safe Lynnwood posted to its Twitter account today shortly after the announcement.

Safe Lynnwood released a full statement on its website. They said that the fight is not over.

“This is not the end. Our community deserves and demands transparency, honesty, and authentic care for our community’s well-being. This Sunday, January 29th at 1 PM, we will rally outside of the proposed site to fight for more protection and assurances for the safety of our children and community. We urge residents, parents, nearby business owners, and concerned citizens to join us in making a powerful statement.”

On January 12, 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. 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.

In its announcement, DOH wrote, “The Department of Health has issued a behavioral health agency license for Acadia Health to operate an opioid treatment clinic in Lynnwood. The department adheres to statutory requirements in its licensure process, and the OTP must meet certain legal requirements to be approved.

“The OTP and the local government each have important roles to play when a clinic is being opened or relocated, thus the City of Lynnwood issued a site permit to Acadia in early March, 2022. DOH received an application for licensure in mid-October, 2022. DOH adheres to its requirements and cannot assume the responsibilities of the other parties beyond the scope of required obligations.

“The department recognizes that there are concerns about the specific location of the clinic, however, site approval is a role for local government, and the department has no role in that decision. The department’s role is to verify that the OTP complied with local zoning and siting regulations, and Acadia did that in this case.”

Ian Corbridge, Office Director for the Office of Community Health Systems with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), called councilmembers today to tell them personally the news. Council President Shannon Sessions told the Lynnwood Times that the council will now start the process to develop a safety plan for the neighborhood that included the county Sheriff’s Office and Lynnwood Police, and review city policies accordingly.

Last week, 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.”

Concerns from stakeholders will continue to be worked through outreach by Acadia Healthcare and documented on its Community Relations Plan document.

Mayor Frizzell, who has been critical of Acadia Healthcare’s handling of the process, shared that Acadia should have implemented a more robust outreach strategy and strongly encourages both Acadia and DOH to reevaluate their outreach processes for future sites.

“If they had executed the required outreach plan properly, they would have had the opportunity to educate and inform the community, City Officials, the police department, school district and businesses effectively,” Mayor Frizzell told the Lynnwood Times.

DOH spokesman Frank Ameduri told the Lynnwood Times that the agency is always open process improvements, but it would require changes to existing state statute.

“We heard community and City Council’s concerns and are reviewing the [licensing] process to identify potential improvements,” Ameduri wrote to the Lynnwood Times. “We’re always open to making process improvements, and we certainly want things like placement of health care facilities to be beneficial for communities where they are located.

“This clinic is moving only a short distance from its previous location, and has hundreds of existing clients, many of whom live in community near the new location and need access to continued treatment. These clients are neighbors, family members, co-workers and friends who are working to stay in recovery.”

Safe Lynnwood has scheduled a protest of the clinic’s opening at 1 p.m. on Sunday, January 29, 2023.

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