At methadone clinic hearing, balance sought between treatment and neighborhoods’ wishes

As Holmesburg, Mayfair and other neighborhoods along the Frankford Avenue business corridor work to keep methadone clinics from opening in their communities, Pa. Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-172nd, held a hearing Wednesday at the Mayfair Community Center to discuss the clinics’ impact on neighborhoods and access to treatment.

The hearing was prompted by the Healing Way Inc’s effort to open a clinic on the 7900-block of Frankford Avenue, and NorthEast Treatment Centers’ plan to set up a clinic at 7520 State Rd.

‍‍Boyle led the panel of speakers, which included community members and representatives of organizations who operate or support methadone treatment facilities.

Pete Specos of the Frankford Civic Association was the first to speak. “I am not against drug addicts or patients that need help, but against the facilities that abuse them and take their money,” he said. Specos said he believes that the methadone facilities need to have guidelines and rules to abide by.

On the panel in favor of methadone clinics was Dr. James Cornish, Director of Opioid Treatment Program at Philadelphia VA Medical Center. “Look at the programs that are good programs,” he said, in an effort to remind skeptics about the benefits methadone clinics can have for addicts. Cornish said that going to treatment for an addict should be as easy as going to a dealer — that they will feel comfortable and at ease.

Boyle briefly spoke about a bill he’s working on to help this problem. Representative Boyle said, “Everyone here wants people with drug addiction to get treatment. We just need a better process of where to put the treatment facility.”

The full list of those who testified is as follows: Pete Specos, president, Frankford Civic Association; Capt. John McCloskey, 15th District captain, Philadelphia Police Department; a panel from The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania Inc. and PRO-ACT, including Sandy Cini, clinical director, Aldie Counseling Center; Brittan Auletto, PRO-ACT recovery specialist, The Council of SEPA; Andre Ried, ATR recovery specialist, PMHCC; Dr. James Cornish, director of Opioid Treatment Program at Philadelphia VA Medical Center and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Studies in Addiction; Noni West, PRO-ACT program specialist of the Council of SEPA and Doylestown Borough councilwoman; and Sharon A.L. Brass, general service representative for anonymous support groups.

Tiffany Goforth and Ryan McDonald are students reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

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