Lynnwood opioid center protesters admit they lost the war

Jan 29, 2023, 2:46 PM | Updated: Jan 30, 2023, 9:35 am
Lynnwood protests...
A few dozen people protested the location of a new opioid treatment center in Lynnwood on Sunday, Jan. 29. (Photo by Bill Kaczaraba)
(Photo by Bill Kaczaraba)

A few dozen protesters fighting against the location of a new opioid treatment center in Lynnwood admit they lost the war over the site but will continue to fight for children’s safety and transparency of the process.

“The point of today’s protest is to focus on what we can do moving forward,” Vivian Dong of Safe Lynnwood and organizer of the event said. “We are still thinking this is not the end. We are here for the safety of the community.”

The opioid treatment center will open Monday despite pushback on the location, a few hundred yards from a Boys & Girls Club and open playgrounds.

“We want to stress that we were never against the center,” Dong explained. “It was always about the location and the process.”

The Washington Department of Health has already approved the center and its location. The public and the Lynnwood City Council said they were caught off guard by the announcement of the location late last year.

Despite the controversy, Acadia Health Care is continuing with its plans to open Monday. Several attempts have been made by KIRO Newsradio and MyNorthwest to reach Acadia for a comment without success.

The group Safe Lynnwood is now focusing its attention on a safety plan and would like to see projects of this type be more transparent in the future.

“We believe there is a much better way to do projects like this,” Dong said. “We want the community to be involved as much as possible, and many state and city officials agree with us.”

Drivers going past the center were often waving and honking to support protesters.

Frigid, but sunny start to the workweek in Puget Sound

Frank Ameduri, with the DOH, explained the process.

“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.”

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.

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.

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Lynnwood opioid center protesters admit they lost the war