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Lynnwood residents toured Acadia’s opioid treatment center

LYNNWOOD, Wash., March 15, 2023—Acadia Healthcare’s Lynnwood Comprehensive Treatment Center on 196th Street in Lynnwood hosted an open house to the public at 3 p.m. on Monday, February 20, in which residents left feeling more knowledgeable and comfortable with the opioid treatment center’s daily operations. 

No audio or video recording allowed, only still pictures. Nicole Smith-Mathews, Director of Washington Sites for Acadia Healthcare conducted the facility tour and was joined by Dan Hymus, Regional Vice President, and Medical Director Dr. Gregory Parada. The center is open Mon-Fri 5-11:30 a.m., Saturday 6:30-11:30 a.m. and closed Sunday.

At Acadia’s Alderwood opioid treatment program, all patients are voluntarily admitted—none are court-ordered. According to Director Smith-Mathews, the center sees 140-180 patients a day but has a maximum capacity of 340 patients. The max at the 5 a.m. time slot, one of their busiest, is 10-15 patients.

When a patient enters the facility, s/he must check-in with their unique ID number. Upon checking in, a green or yellow light on the screen signifies that a patient is cleared to see a nurse, while a blue light indicates a potential billing issue that would require speaking with a receptionist prior to treatment. 

The Alderwood staff consists of four counselors, a clinical supervisor (overseeing the reception area), three nurses, two receptionists, one doctor, and one physician’s assistant.

During the tour, Smith-Mathews showed that there is a check-in area and four dispensary booths with a glass window separating the nurse from the patient. A typical transaction takes about 1-2 minutes from check-in to methadone treatment. A single day’s dose is one pill. 

Patients are prescribed the methadone and can only receive prescriptions at Acadia by the clinic’s doctor. The center accepts Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and some self-pay. Potential patients are interviewed by an Acadia medical professional to prescribe the best treatment path for them.

To prevent patients selling or otherwise distributing the drug prescription, many diversion policies are in place. For instance, they make patients take the treatment while in the window and talk with them afterwards. 

Also, only patients who have met a stringent set of criteria are authorized to take home more than a single day’s dose and are subject to random audits. For these patients, they are to come into the clinic within a 24-hour notice and present their medication, bottles, medication level. Specialists check that the medication is taken correctly and same-day random urine analyses are completed. 

All of Acadia’s clinics have resource binders complete with community resources for wellbeing. All patients are required to do counseling, with individual sessions lasting anywhere from 16 minutes to an hour.

One core community concern about the center is its proximity to the Alderwood Boys & Girls Club and the Alderwood Little League field. 

Regional Vice President Hymus says the center meets with the Boys and Girls Club frequently and is paying for the Club’s upgraded security system. The center’s two-man security team checks in with the club daily to address security concerns. At a Public Safety Forum hosted by Council Councilman Strom Peterson on March 4, it was shared by law enforcement that there have been no calls nor incidents to the facility.

“Patients either go home, to work or about their day”, Hymus said.

Acadia provided security checks on the grounds regularly for loiterers. One guard stays inside, the other patrols the grounds. Smith-Mathews says that she reads their security reports at the beginning of and at the end of the day.

It’s a high bar to get into the Center’s program and requires much dedication from patients. Hymus said each plan is individualized for the patient.

“Some have to come in and dose daily,” Hymus said. “It can be very successful for them if they work hard at it.”

Hymus, a 17-year mental health professional, noted that patients that are on the program from 2-3 years have the highest chance of success, with an 80% rate. Patients require a stable dose and when they have that, then they can focus on changing the rest of their life. From changing friends to where they live, it takes time to develop a healthy support system to change one’s life.

Some patients are on the program from 6 months to 15 years. Every patient is different; some have been on opiates for 15-20 years and abuse over time has had such an effect on their body that they may have to stay on it for life, Hymus shared.

Hymus shared that Acadia actively tries to avoid placing their opioid treatment clinics around schools, residential areas, and daycares but are limited to the available real estate. Lynnwood City Councilwoman Shannon Sessions noted that the problem lies with the Washington State Department of Health and that legislation would have to change.

Medical Director Dr. Parada, a 15-year addiction specialist, shared that Acadia mostly uses methadone, but a handful of patients use suboxone, naltrexone, and vivitrol.

A patient’s first day is a three–five-hour long process because they must meet with a medical provider to conduct a full medical evaluation, a nurse’s assessment, a full counseling assessment conducted by a chemical dependency professional to determine which is the best treatment for their addiction.

For the first two weeks, patients meet with nurses every day ensuring that they’re not on too much or too little treatment and meet with a counselor regularly. 

Dr. Parada said that the doses patients receive are low amounts of methadone that don’t cause a high or euphoric effects, so patients can go out and enjoy life with their family. He said the factors to determine what dosage a patient needs when they first come in are symptom suppression, function, and ensuring that they are at a dosage level that prevents them from using again.

“I have a lot of patients who tell me pretty much every day that this has changed their life,” Dr. Parada said. “They’ve tried other programs and detox but they didn’t work; then they come here and it works for them.”


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