Complaints about a methadone clinic come as a shock to the clinic’s founder. Michael Varenbut, who runs 42 Ontario Addiction Treatment Centers said, “We have never had a complaint in 10 years. So it’s shocking that all of the sudden this comes to light. It’s just completely unfair without anybody giving us disclosure.” According to OwenSoundSunTimes.com , last month, media reports surfaced, highlighting complaints made to Mayor Deb Howell about needles laying around, petty crime, and loitering.
Varenbut claims that he runs the clinic with very strict rules and regulations. He said, “If there’s a needle found anywhere in the vicinity of the clinic, the assumption is that it’s always our patients. Our patients are not the ones causing trouble and if they are, I want to know about it so we can deal with them. If we were to find out that one of our patients did something that was untoward, they would be asked to leave the program.”
Medical officer of health, Dr. Hazel Lynn, has been concerned about the clinic’s treatment for their clients. Lynn told reporters that some clients of the clinic reported that they are not treated as individuals, and if they complain there is retaliation. This also comes as a surprise to Varenbut, who said, “Patients have not brought anything to our attention. We treat our patients with the utmost respect.” Lynn wants to see numbers, facts, and figures to show how this clinic is helping patients and the community.
Varenbut said, “I don’t think anyone realizes what would happen if there was not a methadone clinic in Owen Sound. The consequences would be just devastating. If we were to close our doors, you’re talking about hundreds of patients who would be left on the street without treatment.” The clinic serves about 200 people. Varenbut also adds that the demand for his clinics’ services have increased “three-fold” since the government in Ontario has begun to phase out Oxycontin.
The methadone clinic was brought up recently at a public board of heath meeting. Lynn told the board that an advisory committee will be formed to look at specific problems and complaints, to examine what other communities have done, as well as requesting more transparency from the clinic. The committee would include members of city police, corrections, public health, and “most likely representatives from the clinic itself. Varebut supports this committee, and he agrees that all sides need to work together. He also adds that the clinic enforcing drug testing, and that patients must remain clean. He also asserts that the clinic provides clinical case management, counseling, and psychotherapy.