Protest today at Lynnwood opioid clinic
There’s another planned protest on Sunday at the site of a planned opioid treatment clinic in Lynnwood, but it may be just symbolic.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has already given the final approval for the clinic by issuing a behavioral health agency license for the facility to start providing services.
The facility, run by Acadia Healthcare, has drawn intense concern and scrutiny from residents and local officials, including Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell, who says the location is a safety threat due to its proximity to a Boys & Girls Club and a youth baseball field.
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The planned protest is schedule for 1 p.m. and is led by a group called Safe Lynnwood, who aren’t against the clinic, just the location. It will be the third such gathering since the announcement.
City Council president George Hurst says the council wasn’t notified about the proposed plans for the treatment center until the middle of December.
Frank Ameduri, with the DOH, confirmed that the license had been issued in a statement to KIRO Newsradio.
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“The department adheres to statutory requirements in its licensure process, and the OTP must meet certain legal requirements to be approved,” Amedui said in a statement. “The OTP and the local government each have important roles to play when a clinic is being opened or relocated, thus the City of Lynnwood issued a site permit to Acadia in early March 2022.”
This confirms that the City of Lynnwood had been notified of the plan to place the clinic at its current location, but according to Husrt, the City Council was not notified.
“The department recognizes that there are concerns about the specific location of the clinic, however, site approval is a role for local government, and the department has no role in that decision,” Ameduri said.
The treatment center is required to work with the local government to find a site for medical centers; specifically, the City Planning Department was in charge of approving the clinic because the site was zoned properly, but they did not alert the city council.
“Typically, we do not get involved with tenant improvements. It is with the planning department. It’s just unfortunate that the planning department didn’t really notify anybody else,” Hurst said. “They just were happy that this follows land use permits. We wish they had gotten out of their silo and started thinking about, well, this clinic is within a few hundred feet of a little league field and [a] Boys & Girls club, but that did not happen.”
Acadia’s Lynnwood location is meant to serve patients who have been relocated from the Bothell center. That location closed recently after serving patients for more than 20 years.
Moving forward, Hurst said that now that clinic will be opening soon that the community needs to work together alongside Acadia to ensure safety and comfort at the site.
“My goal will be to have some kind of oversight group, including the neighbors and the police department and some city council members and Acadia has agreed that this is something that needs to be done,” Hurst said. “I think in these first few months, we need to have biweekly meetings to make sure the concerns of the neighbors are addressed. And we want to make sure that the clients feel free to go into this clinic so they can get those services to fight drug addiction. It’s a two-way street there.”
The clinic was originally scheduled to open its doors Monday, Jan. 30.
Safe Lynnwood posted this statement on the Department of Health’s decision to approve the license for the facility:
We are deeply disappointed by the Department of Health’s decision to approve a certificate for Acadia’s proposed location in Lynnwood, next to our Boys and Girls Club. This decision was made despite the company’s troubling history of dishonesty and deception demonstrated in their application process, as well as the many issues our community repeatedly raised with this location. The Department of Health and Lynnwood city administration ignored the needs and concerns of our community.
Since the beginning, our group has been targeted and unfairly called names. We want to make it clear again that we are pro-treatment. We want protections for our kids, and we also care about the men and women who are seeking treatment. Many of our group members have loved ones who are addicted, or have served this community for years and know firsthand how badly they need help. This location does not serve their needs – there is not enough parking, no public transit, or essential services nearby. The close proximity of the children’s clubs and baseball fields in this location will not provide them the privacy they deserve.
It is deeply concerning that the Department of Health and Lynnwood city administration would rather play Russian Roulette with the lives of kids instead of rectifying the issues and holding Acadia accountable for its misconduct. Many officials acknowledged the problems with the location and the flawed bureaucratic process, yet they still chose to support a multi-billion dollar company that had deliberately concealed information in order to obtain permits from the city and had a history of mistreatment in its clinics.
This is not the end. Our community deserves and demands transparency, honesty, and authentic care for our community’s well-being. This Sunday, January 29th at 1 PM, we will rally outside of the proposed site to fight for more protection and assurances for the safety of our children and community. We urge residents, parents, nearby business owners, and concerned citizens to join us in making a powerful statement.