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 Ulster County Lawmakers back 7 Day Methadone Clinic

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PostSubject: Ulster County Lawmakers back 7 Day Methadone Clinic   Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:17 pm

Ulster County lawmaker backs seven-day methadone clinic
BY Patricia Doxsey Freeman Staff

KINGSTON — Ulster County Legislator Walter Frey vowed Thursday to find the money needed to open the county’s only methadone clinic on Sundays and holidays.

Frey, R-Saugerties, said the county is negotiating with Kingston Hospital for the additional operating days in the wake of news that a 15-year-old Saugerties resident died last year from a methadone overdose he had been given by clinic patient Lindsey Latourette.

Methadone is drug given to recovering heroin addicts.

In March, Latourette, 25, of Saugerties, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in connection with the June 14, 2008, death of Evan Wisniewski. Latourette admitted giving Wisniewski some of the weekend supply of methadone she had been given by the Kingston Hospital clinic.

Shortly after Latourette’s plea, Wisniewski’s mother, Christine Summers, began lobbying county legislators to demand the hospital stop sending weekend methadone supplies home with clients. On Thursday, she took brought her effort to the Ulster County Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, which Frey heads.

Ulster County contracts with the Kingston Hospital to run the methadone program, which is open Monday through Saturday.

Deputy County Executive Marshall Beckman said the county currently pays the hospital $394,000 to administer the program.

To add Sundays and holidays, Beckman said, would cost about $20,000 more a year.

“This committee is committed to seeing that program open seven days a week,” Frey said. “We will find the money in our budget.”

Beckman said the county also is discussing with the hospital the possibility of dispensing the drug through the emergency room to clients on days when the clinic is closed.

The county Department of Mental Hygiene ran the county methadone clinic until about six years ago, when it contracted with Kingston Hospital to run the program.

Frey said that under the terms of that contract, the hospital is only required to operate the clinic six days a week.

Beckman, a former director of the Department of Mental Hygiene, said it is not uncommon for clinics to send clients home with enough methadone to make it through the weekend and that every methadone program runs according to the same standards.

And he has defended the practice of sending clients home with weekend doses, saying it’s important to establish trust with the clients. He said that as tragic as Wisniewski’s death was, the program is responsible for helping many drug addicts lead functional lives.

But Summers said the sending methadone home with drug addicts is putting more illegal drugs on the street.

“I don’t believe the public is aware how much methadone is out there,” she said.


http://www.dailyfreeman.com/articles/2010/04/09/news/doc4bbea63fd504a882279637.txt

Comes from The Daily Freeman


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