SEQUIM — Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal health officials are set to begin seeing patients today at the Jamestown Healing Clinic for people who are afflicted with opioid use disorder.
Originally set to open months ago, Dr. Molly Martin, the clinic’s executive director, said “with COVID and many steps and inspections involved in the process, each one took longer than anticipated.”
Said Martin: “The final inspection was in mid-May and since then we’ve been waiting for final (Drug Enforcement Administration) approval. We’re relieved and excited to open.”
The Healing Clinic, formerly known as the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic, sits in an approximate 16,800-square-foot building on 526 S. Ninth Ave., built at a cost of about $17 million.
Inside, staff will dispense daily doses of methadone along with offering wraparound services such as counseling, primary care, dental care, transportation and more.
Martin, the former director of the MAT clinic inside the Jamestown Family Health Clinic on Fifth Avenue, said the opening means they have highly regulated medications, such as methadone on site, and they’re ready to see patients that day.
The tribe employs 41 staff, including tribal citizens, descendants and employee transfers from the Fifth Avenue clinic. They’ve been on site training and prepping for months for patients, Martin said.
“We’re anxious to start seeing patients,” Martin said. “The community is hurting. We keep hearing about the increase of overdoses, and we want to help with that.”
The clinic is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday with dispensing hours for patients on Saturday.
Those seeking an assessment can call the office at 360-681-7755 or visit jamestownhealingclinic.org.
Martin said people have been inquiring at least every other day since the end of the month.
“We’re really excited because, when they show up, we can get them care,” she said.
In a previous interview, Martin said patient capacity had been set at 300 at a “manageable and planned pace” over many months.
Patients could be with the clinic a few years or indefinitely, depending on need, she said.
No prior authorization from a doctor is required, Martin said, and it’s a first-come, first-served protocol.
The only priority for treatment allowed, she said, is for pregnant women, any tribal citizen, and those just released from prison or a hospital.
Families have access to a free Child Watch program separated from the clinic for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years with trained staff for up to three hours.
If patients receive methadone or Suboxone, they go into one of three dosing rooms. A nurse will provide the dosing with methadone coming from a machine that pours the small amount of medicine in a cup. They must consume all of the medication at that time, and it’s checked, tribal officials said.
Suboxone comes as a strip and Vivitrol is an injection given in the medical area near the dosing area, Martin previously has said. Medications are secured inside an 8,000-pound safe.
Most patients will have counseling services, Martin said, and counselors will make an assessment to determine what’s best for each patient.
There are four group counseling rooms and 10 individual rooms.
Tribal officials said security cameras are placed throughout the campus with a full team hired. The tribe also is paying $100,000 a year for three years to the City of Sequim for a social services navigator contractor through Peninsula Behavioral Health.
During an appeal process for the clinic’s application, the City of Sequim’s hearing examiner required a plan to measure impact on local services and report them quarterly to a special committee of community agency leaders and members.
Jamestown S’Klallam CEO and tribal chairman W. Ron Allen said via press release the clinic and its programs “adds to the quality and comprehensiveness of health care on our Olympic Peninsula.”
“It adds value to our Sequim Community, offering clients a professional facility,” Allen said. “We believe it will provide a cultural and natural aesthetic environment that will treat them with dignity and progressive medicinal science, showing that our community cares about people who are suffering and need help.”
He previously said the Healing Clinic is the first phase of a Healing Campus as the state Legislature approved $3.25 million in planning funds for a 16-bed mental health crisis facility.
This proposal was dropped during the clinic’s original plans due to a lack of funds, tribal officials said.
The evaluation and treatment (E and T) psychiatric hospital would likely be south of the new clinic; no construction timeline has been set as the tribe seeks more funding, said Brent Simcosky, the tribe’s health services director.
The MAT clinic was controversial after plans for it were announced. Save Our Sequim was formed in 2019 to oppose it. In 2021, the group’s Land Use Petition Act (LUPA) appeal was dismissed, with the judge saying that the group lacked standing to file it.
Simcosky said the Healing Clinic provides services with support from Olympic Medical Center, Jefferson Healthcare, North Olympic Healthcare Network, Forks Hospital and Peninsula Behavioral Health. He also thanked legislators Steve Tharinger, Mike Chapman and Kevin Van De Wege for their support.
The facility was designed by Rice Fergus Miller Architects and built by Korsmo Construction.
For more information about the clinic, visit jamestownhealingclinic.org.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].