Methadone clinic set to open in Grass Valley May 1 | TheUnion.com

Methadone clinic set to open in Grass Valley May 1

Residents of a mixed-use neighborhood near the hospital remain unappeased by security measures being put in place by a methadone clinic set to open in their neighborhood in May.

Staff for the medication assisted treatment facility at 109 Margaret Lane near Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, which is owned by Aegis Treatment Centers, pledged to maintain a stringent good-neighbor policy at a contentious neighborhood meeting Thursday.

Even so, a number of people — including Grass Valley Mayor Howard Levine and Vice-Mayor Lisa Swarthout — expressed disappointment with the lack of outreach by Aegis and Nevada County staff.

"We understand everybody's not going to be happy about this location," said clinic manager Nicole Kloncz.

But, she said, Aegis saw the location's proximity to the hospital as key to the ultimate goal of reducing opioid addiction rates in Nevada County.

The Grass Valley facility will have patients visit six days a week, and on one day a week the patients will have to go to Marysville for mandatory counseling, said Kloncz. Nevada County residents in recovery previously had to travel to Marysville seven days a week for methadone treatment. While there are other medication-assisted treatment options locally, none currently offer methadone. The Grass Valley clinic will be open from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. during the week, and from 5:30-9:30 a.m. on weekends.

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According to Kloncz, when the clinic opens on May 1, it will have nine patients.

Kloncz touted the Marysville clinic's success rate, telling the audience that 92.7 percent of its clients who have been in the program 90 days test illicit drug-free, compared to a national rate of 60 percent.

"We take pride in that," she said, "We're doing top-notch work."

Neighbors specifically cited concerns with transients loitering in the parking lot and with the lack of streetlights in the neighborhood.

In response, Aegis staff on hand noted they would have security guards on the premises daily and passed out contact numbers for anyone who had a concern to report. They also handed out the good-neighbor policy they require clients to sign.

city wanted more notice

"You need to be realistic about how many (clients) you can serve," Swarthout said, adding more than 20 per day would be problematic at the site.

"At the council level, we have heard very loud and clear about how upset the neighbors are," she said, before noting that she feels more comfortable with the situation after Aegis detailed its level of oversight.

Levine and City Manager Tim Kiser said they were open to discussing adding street lights, but that they wanted to ensure everyone was on board with that solution.

Levine castigated Aegis for the lack of notice to the city, calling it a big mistake and complaining about being blind-sided.

"This conversation should have happened immediately," he said.

Swarthout agreed, saying, "I don't like to throw the county under the bus … but if I had known about this, we would have knocked on every door."

Both council members pledged to hold Aegis accountable for any issues that crop up.

Grass Valley Police Chief Alex Gammelgard noted that Margaret Lane is relatively quiet for a mixed-use neighborhood, with 14 calls for service since mid-January. Of those, six were alarm calls, two were suspicious circumstances, one was a vandalism and one was a theft.

"Our concerns are that they run a clean ship," he said, adding that if Aegis abides by its stated security measures, he did not see an issue with the clinic.

"I think, ultimately, we need to give them a chance," Gammelgard said, urging the neighbors to keep communication lines open.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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