Safety the focus as employees meet with residents to discuss Lynnwood methadone clinic operations

Safety was a major area of discussion when Lynnwood residents, elected officials and members of the media visited Acadia Healthcare’s newly opened opioid treatment facility Monday for an open house and community meeting,

Among those attending was Snohomish County Councilmember and 21st District State Rep. Strom Peterson, who spoke about the need for opioid treatment programs (OTPs) in the community. Peterson also said he “applauded the City of Lynnwood” for its response to the opioid epidemic, referring to the city’s new law that bans the use of illegal drugs in public.

Lynnwood City Councilmember George Hurst, left, listens as Lynnwood resident Vivian Dong and Snohomish County Councilmember and State Rep. Strom Peterson discuss opioid treatment programs.

Acadia staff said they had always planned to host an open house but the community meeting is a new practice; no other opioid treatment center in the state holds public meetings. Staff described the gathering as an effort to gain the community’s trust following public opposition to the facility’s location and criticism about Acadia’s lack of communication with local government.

Monday’s event was the second community meeting that Acadia has held since opening its doors in late January. Press were prohibited from attending the first community meeting, a decision that Acadia Regional Vice President Dan Hymas said was made to ensure attendees were more comfortable. In addition, Hymas noted that certain members of the press had misquoted or spread false information, negatively affecting the facility prior to its opening.

Lynnwood Human Services Commission member Pam Hurst, right, with an Acadia medical staff member who fielded questions during the open house.

The meeting’s purpose was to hear and address concerns about safety. Ken Salem, area director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, said that the club had insisted on extra security staff for the nearby Alderwood Boys and Girls Club and that Acadia agreed to provide the club with a security system. Salem also pledged that the club is committed to developing a positive relationship with its new neighbor.

Acadia representative Nicole Smith-Mathews told the gathering that Acadia has hired two security guards. “One patrols the facility and is on grounds the entire time and the other one is patrolling the community,” Smith-Mathews said. Security guards send a daily report that both Smith-Matthews and Hymas can access.

“Our security vendor’s been very good about it,” Hymas added. “If there’s anything happening on-site they contact leadership of the clinic… I think the worst we’ve had so far was somebody smoking too close to the building.”

Lynnwood City Councilmember Jim Smith attended the open house portion of the evening.

Multiple attendees voiced concerns about transparency, with some noting that information about the meeting itself was hard to find. Lynnwood resident and Safe Lynnwood founder Vivian Dong, who led community opposition to the clinic, asked the center to accommodate full-time workers and parents when scheduling future meetings. Other attendees requested that the center give regular security reports and establish better means of communication. The center will have a Facebook page, but it will not be run by clinic employees.

Smith-Mathews took notes of suggestions and spoke about the clinic’s future endeavors, which include informational events and working with local police to better serve the community.

Acadia employees Nicole Smith-Mathews (upper left, in white) and Dan Hymas (lower right) hosted the meeting in a room usually used for group therapy sessions.

— Story and photos by Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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