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Clinic opposition called ‘harassment’

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

The town of Pulaski has been accused of harassment for opposing a possible “methadone” clinic even though state code forces it to provide an opinion on the proposed project. The Southwest Times recently learned a law firm representing Pulaski Medical LLC sent a letter to town attorney David Warburton March 1 accusing the town of engaging in “harassing” and “discriminatory” conduct by expressing opposition to the clinic. The company threatened to take legal action in federal court. The clinics dispense medications, including methadone, to persons with addictions to opiate drugs such as heroine and pain relievers like OxyContin, morphine, Dilaudid and Percocet, with the goal of weaning the person off drugs. The letter was sent to Warburton only days after the town sent a letter to Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (VDBHDS) opposing the opening of an “opioid treatment center” in the Pulaski Mall store formerly occupied by Pulaski Drugs. Town officials have acknowledged there is little, if anything, they can do to stop the clinic since it meets zoning requirements in effect at the time it filed for licensing through VDBHDS. Nevertheless, Virginia Code Section 37.2-406 states, “the local governing body and community services board shall submit to the Commissioner comments on the proposal or application” within 30 days of receiving notice that a facility is seeking licensing. “Even though the town manager and town council is (sic) aware that Pulaski Medical LLC plans to open in an area zoned B-2, which allows medical clinics as a ‘use by right,’ the town manager and town are inexplicably engaging in a pattern of harassment revealing irrational prejudices and perceptions of patients who suffer from drug addiction and who are prescribed methadone,” John S. Harrison states in the letter to Warburton. Harrison is with Broughal & DeVito LLP in Bethlehem, Pa. The letter goes on to identify the “pattern of harassment” as including the making of statements about drug addicts and methadone clinics to the public, VDBHDS and newspapers. “The discriminatory conduct includes opposing the opening of the facility to the (VDBHDS) even though they know Pulaski Medical LLC is entitled to open as of right in the B-2 district,” Harrison adds. He goes on to say that the company has “expended vast resources” in its attempt to open offices in Pulaski and that he “has been instructed” to file an action against the town and town manager in U.S. District Court’s Western District if they “do not stop their harassing conduct and opposition to the opening of the facility.” Harrison said the action will include damages “anticipated to be a significant amount” and attorney fees “as provided for in the Americans With Disabilities Act.” Warburton responded to the letter the following day (March 2), indicating the town and town manager “will continue to respond to inquiries from the public and the various media in a responsible manner. Not only is each entity permitted to speak, but the town is required under Virginia law to state its informed collective opinion of the proposed placement of the clinic.” Reasons Pulaski cited for opposing the clinic included the deaths of two Pulaski children from ingesting methadone, the potential economic impact on a community already struggling to recover from job losses and the potential harm to other businesses and services located in Pulaski Mall. Not long after the clinic proposal was made public, Save-A-Lot announced it would close and cited the clinic as one factor in the decision. The grocery store would have been next door to the clinic.

Comments

comments

4 Responses to Clinic opposition called ‘harassment’

  1. Resident

    December 26, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    http://www.southwesttimes.com/2012/12/drivers-indicted-in-fatal-wrecks/

    This is the link to a young driver under the influence of methadone who crossed the double lines and took the life of a 61 year old lady and injured two other people. Story after story after story of nothing but BAD things happening due to the use and abuse of methadone. If you are under the influence of methadone you are NOT drug free. You should NEVER operate a motor vehicle. You are putting more than your life at risk…you are taking innocent lives that do not deserve to pay their life for your habit.

  2. david

    January 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    This will be the basis for county officials to approve the measure….thats how messed up this whole clinic talk is.

  3. Whitney

    April 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I have been addicted to drugs befor and I went to the methadone clinic in Galax before, I couldnt get off the drugs without the help of the methadone.. If you have never been addicted you will never understand. I am not a bad person and looking at me you would have never known.. As far as people getting killed on it.. I took the maximum dose of 120 Miligrams of it and drove home from galx to wytheville everyday.. people can CHOOSE to take “extra” which our doctors would not allow but when out of the office it is possible and people do it, they want the HIGH that they were getting before treatmen. but when taking the methadone like supposed to it is a very helpful drug. it did my life tons of good.. Also if any kids died b.c of taking the methadone it was the parents fault not the clinics b.c when you take it home you are supposed to keep it under lock and key and put up… i have two kids and they never got a glimpse of my medicine. And just to add everyday when i got done taking my medicine in galax i would go shopping to many different stores and told my friends in my town about them and now they go and even tho i do not goto the clinic anymore i still goto the stores to shop… so the clinic really is a good thing for the people that do right by it, so give it a chance it would help alot of people out.. and get more buisness for the stores!!

    • Seriously

      April 8, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      Whitney, seriously?? You are trying to justify a pain clinic with shopping? I am glad you have straightened your life out and I would bet you are the minority of those that use Methadone as prescribed. A child in Pulaski died because his mother knew he took Methadone that she had illegally purchased from someone that received it legally through a clinic. The child suffered for hours as the mother watched and then died. One is too many!!! These clinics are known to bring addicts by the hundreds that line up at the door everyday. We don’t need this in Pulaski and if anything it is my opinion it is going to hurt business by bringing those that shoplift and steal to obtain money to purchase Methadone and other illegal drugs. If you were taking the Methadone at maximum capacity and driving everyday, I am glad I didn’t have to travel on the routes you come and go on. The correct choice is not to do drugs to begin with and you wouldn’t have gotten addicted. I am tired of working hard and watching drug addicts steal, rob, and injure citizens for thier addiction while they stay up all night and sleep all day cause they can’t keep a job. No clinic needed in Pulaski.

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