SEQUIM — Community members continue to voice their concerns about the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) facility as decisions about its future draw near, according to Mayor William Armacost.
During Sequim council reports at the end of the Sept. 28 meeting, Armacost said he’s continued to receive concerns from “a variety of different constituents” about the facility slated for construction for South Ninth Avenue.
He asked city staff about an agreement between the city and tribe about transportation to and from the facility that specifies the tribe will provide transportation to and from the clinic for those who lack their own means of travel.
“Does that mean the tribe can provide transportation to bring patients to Sequim from Seattle or other areas?” Armacost asked.
In an email sent to the city council that was obtained by the Sequim Gazette, Brent Simcosky, director of health services for the tribe, replied, “We will NOT be ‘busing’ or providing transportation to any patient outside of this area. We have said this since Day One.”
Simcosky added that the tribe will provide transportation via a small van to clients in Clallam and Jefferson counties for whom “transportation is a barrier to service.”
Clinic clients are required to take the van back to their pickup point with no exceptions, he wrote.
City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said the city doesn’t have the ability to regulate who visits a particular doctor’s office.
“There’s nothing we can do as a local jurisdiction; they can conduct business in the manner they see fit,” she said.
“One of the reasons why the tribe appealed the mitigated determination of non-significance (MDNS environmental review application) is because they felt the city overstepped,” she added.
“The only reason the condition still exists is because the tribe is volunteering to do many of those things.”
Armacost said the clinic “creates a different unknown component (from other doctors’ offices), and that’s where the fear and concern has been forwarded on to me.”
Sequim Police Chief Sheri Crain said she’s spoken with tribal leaders and police chiefs in other areas with opioid use disorder clinics, and the transportation plan is that those who need assistance are transported back to where they were transported from, so as not to overwhelm local transit systems.
“It’s a point-to-point (system), not a house-to-clinic and back to the house,” Crain said. “You have a place you pick them up and take them back to there.”
In his email, Simcosky said patients are all pre-screened and accepted prior to receiving services, and he added the tribe’s Fifth Avenue clinic providing opioid abuse disorder treatment is full.
As for the MDNS stipulations, Simcosky said they agreed to an advisory committee with the police chief and one city council member, a $250,000 bond, a $100,000 social navigator position to Sequim Police, requiring patient pre-screening, on-site security, no loitering or camping, fencing for neighbors and transportation for patients.
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].