|Pittsfield Plans Public Session On Methadone, Opiods|
|City of Pittsfield, |
05:07PM / Thursday, July 19, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city will hold a public forum on Monday to discuss local opioid abuse and the controversial planned opening of a methadone clinic in the city.
The meeting will be held in the auditorium at Crosby Elementary School, 517 West St., at 6:30 p.m. on July 23 and will feature input from state officials, local mental health experts, and Worcestor-based Spectrum Health Services.
Spectrum, which is currently involved in a lawsuit against the city of Pittsfield, has encountered vocal opposition from neighbors of locations it has attempted to open its clinic at on both Summer Street and Stoddard Avenue.
"News that a methadone clinic will be locating in Pittsfield has prompted a great deal of questions and concerns," Mayor Daniel Bianchi said. "The City of Pittsfield is still involved in litigation with Spectrum, so I cannot discuss that aspect of the issue. However, in the last few months, I've had an opportunity to learn a lot more about opioid addiction in Pittsfield and it's long past time to address this problem head-on."
The forum will include the first opportunity for Pittsfield residents to hear from Spectrum Health CEO Charles Faris, who has declined all opportunities to speak to local media on the issue. Both Spectrum and city officials have avoided comment on the ongoing litigation because of a confidentiality clause both parties signed in 2011.
Other keynote speakers include:
• Hilary Jacobs, deputy director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, state Department of
The presentations will feature data on current opioid abuse and treatment in Pittsfield, how methadone treatment facilities are monitored by the state, and information on Spectrum Health's outcomes and treatment considerations in other communities.
• Dr. Jennifer Michaels, medical director of the Brien Center and attending psychiatrist at Berkshire Medical Center
• Dr. Alex Sabo, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Berkshire Medical center
Bianchi said he will offer perspective and information on the scope of drug abuse issues in the community.
"Pittsfield is not unique when it comes to residents with opioid addiction, though our numbers are higher than many communities," he said. "We can't continue to hope that this will go away. The better approach is to learn as much as we can about the problem and identify solutions. It's time to get proactive."
A question-and-answer period will follow. The public is encouraged to attend.