WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – City officials have new concerns about a new 200-bed treatment facility set to open in Wilmington later this year.
The Healing Place will not officer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction recovery. MAT is a treatment model North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says is the “gold standard” when it comes to opioid addiction recovery.
The Healing Place will not receive any of the $19.5 million allotted to New Hanover County as a result of the state’s settlement with major pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid epidemic.
Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo voted to approve a special-use permit for the Healing Place facility back in 2019, when he assumes Coastal Horizons would run the facility with an MAT program. Trillium later decided to contract a Kentucky-based firm to run the Healing Place in Wilmington.
As the facility prepares to open later this year, Saffo has questions about the effectiveness of the Healing Place without MAT. He now hopes leaders can re-evaluate.
“I think we want to evaluate to determine what is the best course of action for the money that we’re going to be receiving to get people in recovery,” Saffo said. “The most important thing is the recovery process, and what’s the best way forward recovery, and I agree with Attorney General on this.”
MAT is a method where early-stage recovery patients are given medications like suboxone or methadone to ease withdrawal symptoms and addiction and then slowly weened off those medicines with the help from other behavioral therapies.
“This is a whole new process and a whole new treatment option that the Healing Place is going to be using,” Saffo said. “So, there’s a lot of questions being asked. Is this the right direction to go? And I think it just needs to be evaluated, because I do agree with the Attorney General, that the treatment option with the medication (MAT), I think is much more powerful.”
The county and city have formed a joint-committee to determine how to distribute the opioid settlement funds. Saffo hopes there could be a change that would result in the Healing Place offering MAT as a treatment option.
I would hope so. I know, obviously, that falls under the umbrella of the county, but since we have a seat at the table, I think that there’s going to be questions asked,” said Saffo.
Leaders with Coastal Horizons are doubtful a change will be made given the contracts that are already in place, but WECT did reach out to Trillium to ask what the process would be if Trillium decided to make a change. This story will be updated when we receive a response.
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