County to work on drug treatment clinic guidelines

SAN DIEGO — The Board of Supervisors Tuesday directed county staff to ensure that clinics for those in addiction recovery are meeting treatment expectations.

The board unanimously directed Helen Robbins-Meyer, the county’s chief administrative officer, to return within 180 days with guidelines for locating and operating medication-assisted treatment clinics, within the scope of federal law; ensuring that clinics are in compliance; and encouraging primary care doctors to offer MAT services.

The reforms would affect clinics that offer methadone treatment for those recovering from opioid abuse.

Supervisor Jim Desmond, who made the request, said the county has the opportunity to develop local guidelines and he looks forward to Robbins-Meyer’s presentation.

According to Desmond’s office, constituents in his district have told him there is a need for more treatment facilities, which should be balanced with community safety concerns.

Desmond added that there are 320,000 doctors in the United States who provide MAT services, and he wants to see if local doctors will follow suit.

Supervisor Kristin Gaspar said that after the board approved a medical organized delivery system for opioid treatment, she was concerned about siting methadone clinics within a community — but later visited one.

“I saw two people in recovery, and they both expressed the importance of counseling services and addiction treatment,” Gaspar said.

She added that access to both services is a critical component.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the board’s vote was a “very important step for the county to streamline (policy), so we have the ability to rapidly site these facilities.”

Medication-addicted therapies work and can save lives, and “I’m grateful to see this board take action,” Fletcher added.

Before the supervisors began discussing agenda items, board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob asked for a moment of silence to honor victims of the deadly mass shootings this past weekend in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.

“We mourn for all those who lost loved ones,” Jacob said.

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