"This is a tough struggle and we know as a state that we are losing, not winning, this battle," said Gov. Peter Shumlin.
The battle against opiate abuse. But now a new methadone clinic in Rutland will be offering treatment, counseling and a variety of other services to people trying to kick the habit. West Ridge Center for Addiction Recovery Program Director Jessi Farnsworth says after a year of planning the ribbon has been cut and the doors will open full time Wednesday morning.
To start, the clinic will offer treatment to 40 patients with opiate addictions who are currently being treated in other facilities. Farnsworth says they will begin accepting 10 more patients a week until they reach their capacity at 400. "It's a pretty short process and it's a great way for people who have a dependence to come here, get their medication and then get right to the job site or get right back home -- whatever they need to do for their daily lives," Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth says patients receiving prescribed doses of methadone and buprenorphine can be in and out of the clinic in under five minutes. Nurses and cameras closely monitor the patients to make sure drugs are consumed on the spot. Some patients will be allowed to take their doses home and some critics say those drugs can wind up on the streets, but Farnsworth says they have a system to prevent that. "We have a system called 'call-backs,' where patients are literally called back to the clinic, they submit a random observed drug screen and they also have all their bottles counted by a trained nurse," Farnsworth said.
"I think the community should feel good about this. I mean this is a step towards treatment and this is something that we have needed for several years -- obviously heroin and opiates are a problem," said Rutland City Police Lt. Kevin Geno.
Police officials say the rising drug addiction in the city has direct implications on the high theft and home invasion crimes. "The three legged stool is what -- prevention, treatment, education... Well let's try this -- let's try treatment," Lt. Geno said.
The clinic will have 17 members on staff and will be open 365 days a year. Although the clinic is open to patients starting 8 a.m. Wednesday, they will not be administering any drugs until Friday.