Molly Martin, executive director of the Jamestown Healing Clinic, stands by the clinic’s new mobile medical unit that will offer medication-assisted treatment and wrap-around services in Clallam Bay on weekdays. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Molly Martin, executive director of the Jamestown Healing Clinic, stands by the clinic’s new mobile medical unit that will offer medication-assisted treatment and wrap-around services in Clallam Bay on weekdays. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Mobile Healing Clinic to start in Clallam Bay on Monday

RV offers similar MAT services as Sequim facility

BLYN — Grant funding has allowed for Jamestown Healing Clinic’s leaders to implement a long-range plan sooner than expected to bring opioid use disorder treatment options to the West End.

Starting Monday, a retrofitted RV, or mobile medication unit, will travel from Sequim to Clallam County Fire District 5’s fire station at 60 Eagle Crest Way in Clallam Bay. It will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday for assessments and various medical services.

Molly Martin, executive director of the Healing Clinic, 526 S. Ninth Ave. in Sequim, said prospective clients are urged to call in advance to 360-681-7755 and set up an assessment in either Clallam Bay or Sequim, because assessments can take several hours.

Martin said clinic personnel hear frequently about the level of unmet needs in the Clallam Bay area. They’ve consistently received calls from prospective patients and family members in the West End since the Healing Clinic opened in July 2022.

Jamestown received $1.6 million from the Washington State Healthcare Authority to develop a mobile medication unit that Brent Simscosky, the tribe’s health services director, said covered most of the vehicle and some training.

The Healing Clinic opened July 6, 2022, and sees about 160 patients a week for opioid use disorder treatment. They may receive doses of methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone), along with counseling, primary care, dental care and other health services.

Martin said the clinic continues to have an even split of men and women with about 65 percent of patients, which are from Clallam and Jefferson counties, transported to and from the clinic.

She estimates a few people come each week from the West End for counseling and other services.

Simcosky said the mobile unit offers a closer option for those unable to travel for several hours a day.

“It’s much needed,” he said.

Mobile unit

The mobile unit was made by Mission Mobile Medical and features an art wrap designed by Jamestown’s Bud Turner.

Inside, it features an exam room, a lab, enclosed medicine dispensary and a counseling area. Each area features walls or screens and noise-cancelling devices to protect privacy. It also has a wheelchair ramp and a generator in case the power goes out.

For a small space, Martin said, it works surprisingly well.

Narcan (Naloxone) also will be given to every patient and available upon request any time, she said.

Tentatively, the unit will set up next to one of the fire station’s bays, so patients can relax.

Martin said the plan is to stagger patient arrival times but noted, “it’s important to take people when they’re ready to receive care.”

Since the mobile unit is a tribe-owned service, tribal members get priority care.

Following trends at the Healing Clinic, Martin anticipates some patients will not have seen a primary care physician recently, so they will be screened for other potential ailments such as high blood pressure, substance use disorder and liver problems.

Martin said mobile unit patients also have access to services at the Healing Clinic, and plans are to arrange for a dentist to do oral screenings in Clallam Bay so they can be seen for treatment, if needed.

The mobile unit will be staffed by nurses, a substance use counselor, a medical provider (a physician’s assistant, physician or nurse practitioner) and a driver/security guard.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rules mandate that medications be brought back nightly and stored within the Healing Clinic, Martin said.

She added that tribal leaders are looking into options for safely keeping the mobile unit in Clallam Bay overnight.

Demand for services

Tribal leaders are unsure how many patients to expect for the mobile unit. Martin said 20 patients will make the program sustainable.

Last year, Clallam County experienced 28 confirmed overdose deaths and 14 suspected overdoses where toxicology or autopsy results are still pending but overdose is likely, reported Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Two-thirds of those overdoses involved an opiate.

“That means that we had the fourth-highest rate of overdose deaths per capita in Washington state,” Berry said.

“Among those deaths, the West End is over-represented, accounting for 14 percent of overdose deaths even though only 9 percent of our population lives there,” she said.

Berry added that those totals account only for overdoses that resulted in death, but emergency department visits and EMS call totals “are just a fraction of the overdoses out there.”

“We know there is a deep need for more treatment resources on the West End, and we are thankful to the many community leaders who have spoken up and demanded better access for their neighbors,” Berry said.

She said many of her patients travel 2½ hours for treatment when they can get fentanyl a block away.

“In order to get ahead of this epidemic, we have to change that,” she said.

“We at the health department are so grateful to the Jamestown Tribe for stepping in to try to fill some of that gap.”

Martin called the partnership with the Clallam Bay Fire Department “serendipitous” as they’ve requested support with the opiate epidemic.

“If we can save lives, repair lives and families, then it’s worth it,” Martin said.

In the coming weeks and months, tribal leaders said they plan to reach out to West End agencies, tribes and recovery groups to work together on referrals.

“We want to work with anyone who wants to work with us,” Simcosky said.

Medication-assisted treatment is a last resort for some people afflicted with opioid use disorder,” Simcosky said.

“It’s not rocket science,” he said. “It stops the cravings and that gives (medical professionals) the opportunity to help them with anything going wrong in their life.

“They can’t easily do it when they’re craving opioids. They’ll wake up and go to bed thinking about the cravings.”

For more about the Jamestown Healing Clinic and its medical mobile unit, visit jamestownhealingclinic.org or call 360-681-7755.

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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 matthew.nash@sequimgazette.com.

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