RUTLAND — Rutland Regional Medical Center has agreed to run a new methadone clinic slated to open in the city’s Howe Center.
The hospital’s board of directors voted last week to move forward with a state Department of Health plan to open a drug treatment center that police and health officials say is needed to treat heroin and prescription painkiller addictions.
“This is obviously good. The hospital stepped up and that’s good,” Rutland Police Chief James Baker said.
Baker, city officials and members of the city’s legislative delegation voiced frustrations during the winter over setbacks in the clinic’s development that pushed its opening date from Oct. 1, 2012, to a year from that date and maybe longer.
RRMC spokeswoman Priscilla Latkin said Monday that Oct. 1 remains the hospital’s target date.
While that date is later than hoped for, Baker and other officials said Monday they were just pleased to hear that the project is moving forward after an earlier plan for Rutland Mental Health Services to run the facility fell apart.
RMHS officials canceled their plans after the organization reached a financial impasse with the state.
Dan Quinn, CEO of RMHS, said last year the state’s plan of serving no fewer than 400 patients in the clinic’s first year would have cost his organization as much as $300,000 in uncovered expenses during the first two years of operations.
Under the new plan worked out with the hospital, the facility will open with enough staff to handle 400 people a year but will probably not come close to that number of patients during the first 12 months of operation, according to Deputy Health Commissioner Barbara Cimaglio.
“Based on our plan we would start with 400 folks but we know there’s not going to be that many,” Cimaglio said. “The start up is going to be a gradual process. We’re not opening the doors with a fixed number of people.”
There’s also no limit to how many people the clinic could serve in the future so long as they are residents of Rutland or Bennington counties — the only two counties in the state unserved by existing methadone clinics.
How many people are travelling to Hanover, N.H., — where the nearest methadone clinic is located — is unclear.
But she said for every person not travelling long distances daily for medication needed to control their addictions to heroin and other opiate drugs there exists an opportunity.
“When people can receive treatment locally they can get jobs and be productive citizens,” she said.
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