By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer
Edmondson Village residents are sounding off about plans for the Time Organization, located on Edmondson Avenue, to open a new methadone clinic.
This clinic would be just 0.4 miles away from another methadone clinic, Heritage Treatment Centers, which also sparked community concern when it opened in a closely-situated neighborhood with three schools. Community members have worries that the clinic will bring additional crime to their neighborhoods and the Edmondson Village Shopping Center in particular.
They also have doubts about how effective methadone clinics have been in combating the opioid epidemic in Baltimore.
“We’re just concerned with the fact that our Black communities are being bombarded with methadone clinics,” said Monique Washington, president of the Edmondson Village Community Association. “It seems almost as if the owners of these clinics are aware that the communities cannot push back, so they can do what they want to do.”
The Time Organization organized a meeting with Edmondson Village residents in February to inform them about plans to acquire a methadone license.
When Washington reached out to city officials about the community’s options for pushback against the new clinic, she was told that dissent would be considered discrimination because these facilities are treating people with substance use disorders.
Community members asked the Time Organization why patients couldn’t just be referred to Heritage Treatment Centers for methadone treatment, but the organization told them that they wanted to keep their clients’ services in-house.
The facility also shared that it had concerns about Heritage Treatment Center’s management of methadone patients.
When the AFRO reached out to the Time Organization’s vice president, Lauren Herron, she declined to comment, as did the facility’s clinical director, Steven Dixon.
“I understand, from what they shared with us in a brief meeting, that Time Organization currently refers their clients to Heritage down the street, but they don’t have a primary care physician on site to conduct urinary analysis on how much methadone a client is getting,” said Shirlene Anita Littlejohn, Edmondson Village resident.
“That’s very concerning because they want to make sure that anybody who’s receiving these medications is closely monitored and that the area is secure so no one is wandering up and down the street, especially with the schools right there.”
Littlejohn has lived in the village for five years and is an inactive mental health counselor. When she previously worked with a crisis response program for children, she used to refer clients to the Time Organization for psychiatric rehabilitation program services.
She said she understood the organization’s goal with the methadone clinic but thought it was too late for them to open it. Instead, she would have preferred Time Organization to acquire their methadone license before Heritage Treatment Centers, which could have then referred its patients to Time Organization.
“I’d like to see a little bit more data as to how many people in our area are actually receiving methadone so it could help paint a picture as to whether there is a significant need or not,” said Littlejohn.
“I’ve known about Time Organization for a really long time, and they’ve added to and improved their services over time. Adding the methadone piece benefits them as an organization, but I want to know how it’s benefiting the people, and not only their clients but the neighborhood and surrounding communities.”
Washington also said she wanted data to determine whether two methadone clinics were needed in Edmondson Village. She’s also perturbed that there is no legislation surrounding how closely these clinics can be situated to one another and to schools.
“They keep putting all these methadone clinics in our community, but they won’t bring the 24/7 resources to do preventative care. They wait until it gets to the point where a person needs methadone or Suboxone and basically take them off of an illegal street drug and put them on a legal drug, which the taxpayers pay for,” said Washington.
“We have several hotspots right here in our community with drug dealers, but they can’t combat that issue. Their solution is just to bring in these methadone clinics.”
Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.