Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict tells the crowd at the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s town hall meeting last week that he visited the facility the tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment center is modeled after. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict tells the crowd at the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s town hall meeting last week that he visited the facility the tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment center is modeled after. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s planned treatment center modeled after Swinomish facility

Clallam sheriff visited, was impressed by didgwalic Wellness Center in Anacortes

SEQUIM — The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s planned medication-assisted treatment center for Sequim will be modeled after a facility operated by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in Anacortes.

Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict told the crowd of approximately 1,300 people who attended the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s meeting last week concerning the tribe’s Healing Campus that he visited the didgwalic Wellness Center in Anacortes.

Benedict said he was impressed after observing what goes on in the parking lot and after talking to officials who operate the facility.

“The typical patient is not what you would say is a client of my jail,” Benedict said. “Some of them had scrapes with law enforcement, but the majority of their patients, I feel if it weren’t for the program they are in they could be clients of mine in the jail.”

During the Thursday meeting many expressed fear that the tribe’s Healing Center, because of its scale as a regional facility, would attract more crime and drug dealers to Sequim.

Brent Simcosky, director of health services for the tribe, said the Sequim Facility will be modeled after the didgwalic Wellness Center.

“They told us they had zero police calls to their property in 18 months,” Simcosky said. “And no complaints from neighbors.”

The didgwalic Wellness Center provides outpatient treatment services, primary medical care, mental health counseling, gambling counseling, medication-assisted treatment, shuttle transportation, child care, case management and has security during all business hours.

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe purchased 20 acres of land zoned for health care on South Ninth Avenue, adjacent to U.S. Highway 101, where it will build a 15,000 square-foot medication-assisted treatment facility that will eventually treat approximately 250 patients. The hope is to open it in 2021.

Patients at the outpatient facility will receive daily medications for their opioid-use disorder and receive wrap-around services of primary care, dental, individual and group counseling, childcare and transportation if needed.

Tribal officials said the facility would only see patients from Clallam and Jefferson counties.

The second phase involves adding a 16-bed psychiatric treatment hospital, operated by Olympic Medical Center staff, that is expected to open in 2022. Funding has not been secured.

Benedict said that when he arrived to the didgwalic Wellness Center, he sat in the parking lot to watch what happens. He did not see any people who appeared homeless or anyone who was “hanging around” the parking lot.

He said he was impressed with the tight security. Security officials at the clinic told Benedict that occasionally they have to remind patients of the rules.

“I was impressed. They’ve got more damn cameras than in my jail,” Benedict said. “I was impressed and I did not see a criminal element in there.”

Benedict emphasized that he is not taking a position on the location of the tribe’s planned Healing campus, but said it would likely help people before they commit crimes.

“We have too many people who wind up in jail because we cannot handle their mental health problems because there isn’t the capacity,” Benedict said. “A lot of these mental illnesses, if we could just get them the treatment they need … wouldn’t in turn — along with people with opioid-use disorder — spiral down to the point they are arrested for crimes and put in my jail.”

Tribal Chair and CEO Ron Allen said 24/7 security is part of the tribe’s business plan for the MAT program.

“The property will be lit up like crazy,” he said.

He said the tribe works closely with Security Services Northwest and the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.

He said the tribe will meet regularly with local law enforcement and if there are any issues they’ll work toward a solution.

“It will be second to none when it comes to security,” Allen said. “We want to reassure people that when it comes to security, on and off the property, it’s an issue we’re very aware of.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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