Health officials in Rutland unveiled plans Tuesday night -- for a new drug treatment center. The news comes as opiate addiction takes a tighter hold on the area.
At a public meeting in Rutland, a panel of mental health experts, doctors, and law enforcement officials came together to explain to a multi-faceted program -- still in planning stages -- that they say, will approach opiate treatment holistically.
"It's more than just the medicine," said Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen, "you actually have to have a comprehensive system around it which deals with psychological social and spiritual needs and it doesn't take the place of counseling."
The program would act as a treatment hub with all prescribers coordinating under one roof.
"The people who really have complex substance dependence and need a variety of services and supports will be able to be managed more effectively at these hub locations," explained Barbara Cimaglio, Vermont Deputy Health Commissioner.
The idea of a heroin treatment center was approached ten years ago, a plan with which local police didn't agree -- but the multi-faceted approach, they say, gets their approval.
"These safeguards actually make sense, the expertise that's here in this room today is far greater than it was 13 years ago," said Scott Tucker of the Rutland City Police Department.
Though it's unclear where exactly this hub will go or how much it would cost, experts say it's badly needed in Rutland County, where there are only a half a dozen doctors certified to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug that helps wean people off of opiates, and the nearest methadone clinic is more than 60 miles away.
Though many say the idea is moving in the right direction, others like Marty Iron, past president of the Vermont Board of Pharmacists say other issues need to be addressed to solve the drug problem in the area.
"I've never seen up until recently how readily available oxycodone is," Iron explained," and it's not coming out of Mr. Hubner's E.R. It's not really coming from our hospice patients and our great surgical folks we have here, it's coming from primary care."
Iron says that in 2010 one million oxycodone tablets were dispensed in Rutland Pharmacies -- that's an average of 17 per resident. It's not uncommon for just one oxycodone tablet to sell for $80, according to the panel - so they say just like the treatment, the prevention also has to be comprehensive.
"Everyone's going to have to take a little piece of the responsibility, and that includes primary care, that includes the patients, that includes government and even law enforcement," said Chen.
In addition to stopping doctors from over- prescribing, the program would have to hire more doctors certified to prescribe buprenorphine -- and they say for that, they may need to hold a national recruitment.
Thursday, May 23 2013 9:57 AM EDT2013-05-23 13:57:59 GMT
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