JWN Meeting: Q & A with Lane County staff — February 11

The Jefferson Westside Neighbors (JWN) will hold its monthly General Meeting at which staff from Lane County Health and Human Services will be available for Q & A regarding the MAT Clinic from JWN members. I’m not sure whether the HHS Director, Karen Gaffney, will participate; but I hope she will take this opportunity to directly engage community members.

Meeting details:
Date & Time: February 11 at 6:45 p.m.
Where: First United Methodist Church; 1376 Olive Street

On January 21, the JWN Executive Board approved motions to recommend Lane County engage an independent expert to evaluate the proposed MAT operation and provide recommendations. (See the new post below.) As provided in the JWN bylaws, the JWN members attending the General Meeting will have the opportunity to discuss and potentially modify or rescind the board’s action.

I have recommended that Lane County engage a national expert, Dr. Dana Hunt, who has extensive ‘real world” experience with Methadone-dispensing clinics, including ones that are sited and operated so they do not have negative impacts on the immediate residents and business, as well as mismanaged operations that have created serious problems for both their patients and the immediate community. I encourage you to review Dr. Hunt’s credentials and support bringing her to Eugene.
Dana Hunt, Ph.D., Senior Researcher at Abt Associates


On January 7, 2020, Lane County purchased the old “Jones Roth” office building and parking lot at 432 W. 11th Ave. in Eugene, Oregon. The Health and Human Services Department plans to operate a drug treatment clinic on the southwest corner of W. 11th Ave. and Lawrence St. that will, among other treatments, dispense Methadone and operate an outpatient buprenorphine clinic that was reported to have about 130 patients as of May 1, 2019. Learn more from Lane County’s webpage: Click Here.

The Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides the authoritative information on “MAT” clinics for patients and the public. Click Here.

Methadone is a synthetic opioid commonly used to treat opiate addictions, especially addiction to heroin. Methadone acts on the same opioid receptors as morphine and heroin to stabilize patients and minimize withdrawal symptoms in the case of an addiction. Click for more information.

Buprenorphine is used to treat dependence/addiction to opioids (narcotics). Buprenorphine belongs to a class of drugs called mixed opioid agonist-antagonists. It helps prevent withdrawal symptoms caused by stopping other opioids. Buprenorphine differs from methadone which, like heroin, is a full agonist. It is by their actions on opioid receptors that opioids achieve their analgesic (pain-killing) as well as their addictive effects. … Buprenorphine, as a partial agonist, does not activate mu receptors to the same extent as methadone.

While the widely accepted medical opinion is that Methadone is an efficacious treatment, it is not a panacea and there are Methadone treatment cautions.

This site will provide independent information on the County plans, as well as covering issues that are critical to the MAT clinic being a “Good Neighbor,” with a positive impact on citizens in the proximate area, including residents, property owners, business owners and individuals visiting or passing through the area.

The Federal Government has published an excellent starting point for understanding “Best Practices” for MAT clinics:
Federal Guidelines for Methadone Clinics

Who’s telling the truth about the Zoning?

In an e-mail I sent on July 11, I warned that the defined use of “Drug Treatment Clinic — Non-residential” was not allowed on the site which Lane County has now purchased for the planned Medication-Assisted Treatment (“MAT”) Clinic that would dispense Methadone (and other drugs) on a non-residential basis.

The reason is simple: Eugene’s comprehensive plan designates the property for “Medium Density Residential” (“MDR”) use, which is implemented in Eugene Zoning Code by the R-2 Medium-Density Residential Zone. The R-2 zone doesn’t allow non-residential drug treatment clinics. The MDR designation also allows “Neighborhood Commercial Facilities,” which is implemented in Eugene Zoning Code by the by the C-1 Neighborhood Commercial Zone. The C-1 Zone also doesn’t allow non-residential drug treatment clinics. The comprehensive plan also designates the site with a “Mixed Use” overlay, but that overlay is implemented by the S-DW Downtown-Westside Mixed-Use Special Area Zone. The S-DW Zone also doesn’t allow non-residential drug treatment clinics.

Legally, the site’s C-2 Zoning conflicts with the comprehensive plan designations; and State law requires the City to bring the zoning into conformance with the plan designation, which would mean rezoning the property to either R-2, C-1 or S-DW. In no case can the site be lawfully used for non-residential drug treatment clinic.

The Lane County commissioners disregarded these facts because they relied on an explicit, written statement by Karen Gaffney, the Director of Health and Human Services, that “[County] staff met with an independent consultant and City of Eugene staff to confirm proper zoning for locating the MAT clinic at this site.”

The problem is that the City staff deny having any records that confirm Gaffney’s claim of “proper zoning” for the MAT clinic. Furthermore, the Eugene Planning Director stated in writing that the City staff “generally do not provide review of, or comment on, interpretations of the land use code outside of the context of a land use application.” The County has not submitted any form of land use application to this date.

I’ve provided the County documents establishing this apparent conflict in statements of the Lane County HHS Director and the Eugene Planning Director, and I’ve requested that the HHS Director provide proof that what she told the Lane County Commissioners was true.

It will be important to get to the bottom of this issue, especially because my further investigation into the site’s zoning has discovered evidence that confirms that the MAT clinic cannot be legally operated on the W. 11th Ave. site.

Eugene clinics that may administer or prescribe methadone, buprenorphine and/or naltrexon

There are a limited number of clinics or programs in Eugene that may administer or prescribe methadone, buprenorphine and/or naltrexone as part of treatment for opioid addiction. The following list is based upon on-line directories and may not include all clinics or programs.

Lane County Behavioral Health Methadone Treatment Program
151 W. 7th Ave #163

Integrated Health Clinics of Eugene
715 Lincoln Street

Willamette Family Treatment Services
605 West 4th Street
687 Cheshire Street

White Bird Clinic Chrysalis Program
350 East 11th Avenue

Serenity Lane
616 East 16th Avenue

JWN board recommends Lane County engage independent consultant for MAT clinic

The Jefferson Westside Neighbors Executive Board adopted a motion to “recommend that Lane County engage a principal researcher for onsite consultation and education related to the Medication-Assisted Treatment clinic planned to be operated in the JWN.”

I recently advised Lane County Health and Human Services Director, Karen Gaffney, that she should contact Dr. Dana Hunt, a nationally-recognized expert on opioid addiction and treatment, who is a principal researcher with Abt Associates in Boston, Massachusetts. With her extensive work around the country, Dr. Hunt has gained decades of on-the-ground experience with Methadone treatments and dispensing clinics. She has seen the “best” and the “worst” and could provide specific assessments and recommendations regarding Lane County’s operational plans for the MAT clinic on W. 11th Ave.

Abt Associates is a global leader in state-of-the-art research, monitoring and evaluation. An evaluation by a senior Abt researcher would enable Lane County HHS to ensure the planned MAT clinic program is serving both patients and the surrounding neighborhood in an exemplary manner from the very start.

Dr. Hunt has said she would be willing to provide on-site consulting for a substantially reduced fee as a service to the JWN and Lane County. Click here to view Dr. Hunt’s full resume.

Click the “Follow” button at the bottom of the page to get notice of future developments on this opportunity and other news.

Questions presented to Lane County staff

On January 13, 2020, the Chair of Jefferson Westside Neighbors presented Karen Gaffney, Director of Health and Human Services, the following list of questions regarding the planned Methadone-dispensing clinic:

  1. What medications (drug and form, e.g. liquid, tablet, etc.) will be dispensed by the clinic?
  2. What accreditation(s), certification(s), and registration(s) does the program have currently?
  3. What additional, new or renewed accreditation(s), certification(s), and/or registration(s) are required of planned for operation at the new site?
  4. What independent evaluations have been done of the program since January 1, 2017? What independent evaluations are planned for the operation at the new site, and for when are those planned?
  5. What is the target date for initial operations?
  6. What will be the days and hours of operation?
  7. How many client visits per day are planned for initial operations? (The same client visiting twice in one day counts as “2”.)
  8. What is the approximate, estimated client visits in half-hour increments during the hours of operation?
  9. What is the estimated means and immediate routes of clients arriving and departing the clinic; i.e., arrive/depart by bus; by private car, by tax/uber/lift; by bicycle (what routes); by walking (what routes)?
  10. How many employees will work at or be based from the site?
  11. How many doctors will work at the site and what would be the doctors’ daily schedules when doctors are working at the site?
  12. How many security personnel will work at the site and what would be their daily schedules when security personnel are working at the site?
  13. What will be the capacity of the inside waiting area? What will be provided for seating and amenities (e.g., coffee service)?
  14. What is the potential, whether in current plans or not, scale for expansion of the number of clients at the site?
  15. What is the plan for security during hours when the operation is closed?
  16. What are the plans to prevent or substantially mitigate negative impacts to clients and citizens from off-site behaviors, especially within the proximate area, such as sale of methadone by patients, sale of drug paraphernalia to patients, recruitment of patients for drug use, theft, etc.? (The “proximate area” should include the area bounded by Jefferson and Washington Streets and W. Broadway and W. 13th Aves.)
  17. What are the plans for reporting complaints and rapid response?
  18. What are the plans, including metrics, for monitoring, reporting and evaluating impacts on citizens in the proximate area, including residents, property owners, business owners and individuals visiting or passing through the area?

If you have questions about the MAT clinic operations and impacts, you can post a comment on this blog and I will forward it. Or, send it to Karen Gaffney directly at the address in the sidebar.

As responses to questions are provided, I will post them here.