Open Door Mission closes doors to methadone patients - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Open Door Mission closes doors to methadone patients

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Rutland's Open Door Mission's doors are no longer open to patients from the city's methadone clinic. The mission tells us they have logged 15 recent incidents involving patients from the nearby West Ridge Center for Addiction Recovery. The one that prompted director Sharon Russell to institute the new policy was when she says one of her staff members was attacked by a patient from the clinic.

"It's frightening some of the everyday clients. Some of them are staying away and I don't want that to happen. I don't want anybody to go hungry," Russell said.

But the Rutland Police Department tells us the problem is news to them.

"I don't know where the disconnect is between what Mrs. Russell is saying is happening at the clinic and the failure to report here, but we don't have those number of complaints," Rutland Police Chief James Baker said.

They say they have only received 10 calls for service total since the clinic, which serves 350 people in Rutland County, opened in November of last year. Most of those were for trespassing.

The Rutland Regional Medical Center runs the clinic. Officials there are also baffled by reports their patients have been misbehaving. They tell us members are closely monitored.

"Every day they come in to get dosed, our nurses do an assessment of that patient to make sure that the dosing is right, that they are not overmedicated," said Dr. Jeff McKee of the RRMC.

Still, Russell tells us she is concerned for the safety of her clients and staff, but how she will institute this policy is a bit fluid. She says if someone comes by from the clinic and doesn't cause trouble she will not ask them to leave.

"I don't want anyone going without a meal because they're afraid to come to the mission," Russell said.

Baker says the methadone clinic is essential to Rutland's overall fight against the heroin problem. He says police have weekly communication with the clinic and are surprised by this new policy. RRMC also has a meeting planned with the mission next week to try to bring some clarity to the situation.

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