Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

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  Fate of Proposed Methadone Clinic May Be Decided Tonight

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PostSubject: Fate of Proposed Methadone Clinic May Be Decided Tonight    Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:21 pm

mod edited: all articles posted need to have the link of reference. reference link added. Also corrected title to relect change

The fate of a proposed methadone clinic in Bloomfield will be discussed and perhaps decided behind closed doors at tonight’s town council conference meeting.
The treatment center in question - American Counseling Center, Inc. (ACC
) - had operated at 14-20 Watsessing Ave. until the Township of Bloomfield revoked its Certificate of Occupancy in 2007 citing new zoning restrictions. In previous meetings, the council refused to discuss any details surrounding the clinic. Now, almost four years later, concerned residents search for answers as the clinic threatens legal action to regain the right to treat addicts in Bloomfield.

“We were up and functioning for at least six months, treating patients five days a week and there was no incident,” Dr. Robert Matturro, the clinic’s landlord, told Patch. “It was due to the politics of the town, that [the state] pulled our license.”

Matturro continues to offer physical therapy and chiropractic care from the location.

Despite his claim that the clinic was run without conflict or complaints, residents have begun to voice concerns that recovering addicts may commit crimes in the area if the clinic is reapproved.

“I hate to see a methadone clinic forced down our throats legally or by any other means,” said one resident at the March 28 council meeting. “When they get there late or are not allowed to get their fix, they will resort to other criminal activities … Please, please, I ask you and I plead, stop this from occurring."

The remarks were met with applause.

Methadone is used primarily to treat the symptoms of withdrawal in heroin addicts. The stigma surrounding drug addicts and treatment centers has informed much of the local debate, a barrier recovery workers have been fighting to change since methadone clinics were introduced in the 1960s.

“The perception of having a drug addict in your neighborhood is that they are dangerous,” said Miguel Mateo, the director of clinical services at Essex Substance Abuse Center. “But the ironic part is the ones who are coming to the clinics seeking treatment are the ones trying to get away from the crime.”

Mateo’s clinic in nearby Newark absorbed some of the clients from Bloomfield’s ACC after the clinic was closed.

“When they shut the clinic in Bloomfield I had to go to Newark, which is so big it can’t be as attentive to all the needs,” said Johnny, a Bloomfield resident who claims to have been treated at ACC when it was operational. (Johnny has asked that his full name be withheld from this story to protect his identity.) “They made sure you had counseling to go with methadone treatment. It wasn’t just a place to go and get your methadone and go home. We are just trying to get help for our problems.”

To be sure, this is not Bloomfield’s first bout with a methadone clinic. In the early ‘90s, a treatment center on West Street was forced to shut its doors after a neighborhood outcry.

“It opened in winter so the patrons didn’t hang out at first,” said Gary Iacobacci, a former town council member who represented Bloomfield's third ward from '91-'96. “Then spring came and the neighbors started complaining that the patrons were walking up to homes and urinating on people’s property and hanging out there. We started investigating and this place had no license. So, we gave them some time to place their clients and closed them down.”


If the stigma surrounding clinics and past experiences with methadone treatment centers create anxiety in neighborhoods, the lack of information regarding this particular clinic has created another level of angst among Bloomfield residents.

When asked about the clinic by several residents at the March 28 town council meeting, township attorney Brian Aloia had said the matter was in litigation and the township refused further comment. Iacobacci, frustrated by the lack of information he was receiving from the council, filed an Open Public Request Act (OPRA) petition to investigate the clinic’s public records for himself.

Reading from a file containing the center’s legal history, including the 2007 dismissal of the Certificate of Operation, Iacobacci challenged the township’s tight-lipped position during public session at the April 4 council meeting.

“The township attorney tells us that he can’t talk about it because it is in litigation, but the file says the litigation stopped in 2008,” Iacobacci told Patch, days after the meeting. “I just didn’t understand why they couldn’t tell me what is going on when it is open to the public to see.”

Aloia stands by his position, citing legal protocol.

“Gary [Iacobacci] made a big deal during that meeting,” he told Patch. “He did a good job of reviewing the file but clearly I can't comment on the facts of the case. If I did, that could jeopardize the township's position.”

Aloia told reporters after the April 4 meeting that the matter was "threatening" to enter the litigation process and that he had misspoken at the March 28 meeting by saying it was already in litigation.

At the April 4 meeting, Iacobacci had not yet obtained a key correspondence from ACC. The clinic’s lawyers submitted a letter dated Feb. 3, 2011 to the township that made a “final demand to repeal” the ordinance that led to its license being revoked. The letter goes on to state, “Should [ACC] be forced to pursue a legal remedy from the courts, it will be seeking compensatory damages … ” The township was given two weeks to respond.

Aloia points to this letter, obtained by Patch, as proof that he was following procedure.

“The letter was first sent to our insurance carrier and attorney to analyze it to find out what our position will be if we get sued. The council will consider that legal opinion at (tonight's) meeting," explained Aloia. "They have to determine what the lawsuit will cost taxpayers, what are the chances that they will go to litigation. It's not that you are keeping the public uninformed - you work as quickly as you can to find out the facts and to inform council so they can make a decision.”

“For lack of better words,” he added, “there is an appropriate time for council to disseminate information.”

For many Bloomfield residents, tonight’s meeting is as good as any.

Tonight's town council conference meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the mayor's conference room (second floor of the law enforcement building).

Bloomfield Patch

Last edited by lilgirllost on Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:14 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : added reference link to article)
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PostSubject: Re: Fate of Proposed Methadone Clinic May Be Decided Tonight    Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:03 pm

The meeting went on as scheduled and here is the result from that meeting.

Council Upholds Ordinance Banning Methadone Clinic
But decision won't stop center from suing township over license

Bloomfield residents seemed to get the answer they were looking for at Monday night's council meeting about the fate of a proposed methadone clinic at Watsessing Avenue.

Mayor Raymond McCarthy and council members agreed to uphold a prior ordinance prohibiting methadone counseling centers in any part of Bloomfield, squashing weeks of rumors that a clinic was set to reopen at the address.

"It failed to move," McCarthy said over applause in the mayor's conference room.

The council opted to begin Monday night's meeting with a roughly 20-minute closed session in the room to discuss the drug center, while more than 50 Bloomfield residents awaited the decision in a steamy hallway in the law enforcement building.

"I'd just like to first thank the mayor and city council for making such a wonderful decision to support the ordinance to prevent this methadone clinic in Bloomfield," said resident Dan Natal.

American Counseling Center, Inc. (ACC) has threatened litigation to regain the right to treat addicts at the clinic, after its Certificate of Occupancy was revoked by the township in 2007.

Brian Aloia, the township's attorney, said the council's decision Monday night was made under verbal and written legal advice. He said, however, it doesn't prevent ACC from filing a lawsuit.

Prior to the closed session, the mayor riled residents by refusing to move the meeting to the larger council chambers in the adjoining town hall, despite reaching the 42-person maximum occupancy in the conference room.

"I thank you, but we had to do (closed session) here so we could have a great discussion about it," McCarthy said. "That's why I like to stay in this room."

Some residents were forced to listen to the first half-hour of the meeting from the hallway, which was measured by the fire department for maximum occupancy earlier that day in anticipation of a large crowd. The hallway, located on the second floor of the law enforcement building, can hold up to 200 people, according to Fire Chief Joseph McCarthy.

The meeting was eventually moved to council chambers under the suggestion of Councilman Bernard Hamilton.

Correction: The original headline of this story incorrectly referred to the clinic as a "meth" center. It has been changed to "methadone."

Bloomfield Patch

"I will let yesterday end so that today can begin"

Never take any online advice over that of a qualified healthcare provider
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PostSubject: Re: Fate of Proposed Methadone Clinic May Be Decided Tonight    Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:40 pm

yeah this one has already been decided.

ALSO if you look down in the comments section, you can read my comment to them. I am the one that complained to them about having METH clinic in the title versus METHADONE CLINIC. I was FURIOUS when I saw that.

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