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Pulaski ‘methadone clinic’ inching closer

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

Unless a problem is found during an upcoming site visit, the new “methadone clinic” could be up and running in Pulaski by summer, according to a state official.

Les Saltzberg, director of licensing for Virginia Department of Health and Developmental Services, said a licensing specialist has been assigned to the clinic applicant, Pulaski Medical LLC, to oversee the remainder of the licensing process, which is in its third and final phase.

Gary Gavornik of Easton, Pa. filed with VDHDS in late 2011 for a license to operate an “opioid treatment center” in the Pulaski Mall unit formerly occupied by Pulaski Drugs and New River Valley Community Services. The clinic will dispense medications, including methadone, to persons with addictions to opiate drugs and pain medications. The goal is to wean the person off the opiates and pain medications.

Saltzberg said a date has not yet been set for VDHDS and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) to visit the proposed clinic site. However, he indicated it probably will occur in the next four to six weeks.

The clinic will then be able to open for business unless a problem is found in the course of the site visit. “They (site visitors) could tell (the clinic) they’ll have to fix something first,” thus delaying an opening date, said Saltzberg.

The town of Pulaski was notified of the clinic’s application for a license to operate in town in December 2011. Pulaski and Pulaski County have filed objections to the proposal through VDHDS. However, since the clinic is consistent town zoning at the time the application was filed, officials have been doubtful they can do anything to stop its location in the town.

The property’s B-2 zoning allowed medical clinics as a “use by right” in December 2011. Since that time, council has amended the ordinance to require a “special exception,” thus giving the town more control over such facilities.

Pulaski Mall is owned by RAS Properties, which is owned by Robert Strenz, a former member of Pulaski’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority.