Ellwood City Borough Council will vote today on a proposal by Freedom Health Care Services to open a drug addiction clinic on 773 Pershing St. in Walnut Ridge.
Contrary to information in a video report, Freedom Health Care Services is not a methadone clinic. The facility will not have any methadone. It is a counseling treatment facility for those with addictions.
Freedom Health Care Services is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Bridgeville. Ellwood City will be their second location. The company provides individualized, outpatient counseling for drug and alcohol addictions. Patients are by appointment only and must qualify to enter the program.
Patients may be prescribed a medication called buprenorphine, used to treat opioid addiction, and can be given an initial dose inside the facility. However, according to representative Hunter Farmer, no patients will leave the building with drugs.
“There were concerns that the facility would have in house drugs and money, but that is not the case,” Borough Manager Bob Villella said.
Freedom Health Care Services responded to a request by the Lawrence County Drug and Alcohol Commission to establish a drug addiction clinic within the Ellwood City limits. Farmer stated that Ellwood City was identified as an area in need of such a facility.
The Ellwood City Hospital, after hearing a presentation by the company, recommended Freedom Health Care Services. According to Farmer, the hospital did not have sufficient facilities to house the clinic, so the former orthopedic doctor’s office on Pershing Street was chosen for its proximity to the hospital.
However, there are concerns about the clinic’s location in a residential area. “I understand the need for a drug facility, but I have major concerns about the residential location such as its proximity to elderly and children,” Mayor Anthony J. Court said. In my tenure as mayor, the police department has focused on drug abuse and fighting illegal narcotics. We are adamant in our fight against drugs, and I fear the location, not the need of the clinic.”
Freedom Health Care’s location in Bridgeville is also in a residential area and Farmer commented there have been no problems.
Farmer said that the company’s goal is to give the help addicts need to turn their lives around and that there is a general misconception about the nature of addicts.
“Most drug addicts don’t live under a bridge,” Farmer said. “They’re waitresses, car salesmen, office workers, ect. For those that are unemployed, we try to give them the resources to acquire and keep a job.”
About Freedom Health Care Services
The company’s mission statement is as follows:
“Freedom Healthcare Services believes that outpatient treatment combined with effective individual, group, and family counseling can provide successful treatment for individuals suffering from physical and psychological manifestations of substance dependence.
Freedom Healthcare Services believes that successful treatment must be individualized. Our medical team works with our patients to customize a recovery process based on their specific medical, psychological, social and spiritual needs. Our clinical team acts as their Recovery Coach to encourage, educate, and empower them with the skills and tools necessary to guide them to a drug free lifestyle.”
Buprenorphine is a drug used to treat opioid addiction. It is described by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as: “an opioid partial agonist. This means that, although buprenorphine is an opioid, and thus can produce typical opioid agonist effects and side effects such as euphoria and respiratory depression, its maximal effects are less than those of full agonists like heroin and methadone. At low doses buprenorphine produces sufficient agonist effect to enable opioid-addicted individuals to discontinue the misuse of opioids without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.