Letter: Assure addiction treatment for non-Berkshire residents

Assure addiction treatment for non-Berkshire residents

To the editor:

Five months ago, Berkshire Medical Center announced a new 30-bed Clinical Stabilization Services unit to help with the opioid epidemic that is facing our community as well as communities around the nation. This unit was to continue care for patients leaving the McGee unit after a 3-5 day stay for detox.

I would like to know how it is OK to deny a person care because they do not live in Pittsfield, but instead live in Springfield?

On Sept. 23, I came upon a situation where an individual needed admission into an inpatient setting. I called McGee and asked if it had beds available. I was told there was a waiting list and was then asked what city we were from. When I said Springfield I was told as of that week they where only servicing people from Berkshire County.

How is this appropriate? How could a hospital voted in the top 5 percent in the nation deny addiction treatment to anyone who doesn't live in Berkshire County? If someone gets into a car accident and requires treatment would they be denied treatment because they don't live in Berkshire County? I believe the answer is no, so why does this apply to addiction treatment?

There is a great need to increase treatment opportunities for those who suffer from these addictions. Recently, the Obama administration announced that The Department of Health and Human Services would increase the cap to allow suboxone prescribers to treat 275 patients each, effective in August. This constitutes a 175 per provider increase. Suboxone is an FDA-approved drug used to treat opioid addiction.

The heroin/opioid epidemic isn't getting any better, and as a community and a nation we should be doing whatever it takes to help people avoid fatal drug overdoses. More than 6,000 Massachusetts residents have died from opioid and heroin addiction in the past 10 years.

I find the decision of Berkshire Medical Center to only treat Berkshire County residents biased and would like an explanation as to why this is. Before we had treatment options available here in Pittsfield those needing inpatient detox were cared for in Springfield and surrounding areas without prejudice of where they lived. Berkshire Medical Center should do the same.

Melissa Peck, Pittsfield


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