Methadone clinic eyeing move from Summer Street site
PITTSFIELD >> Spectrum Health Systems Inc. is expected to move its methadone addiction treatment clinic from its 42 Summer St. location to larger quarters on Merrill Road.
Sources confirmed earlier this week that Spectrum had entered into a lease agreement on the rectangular brick building at 390 Merrill Road that formerly held a Solomon Furniture outlet.
Mayor Linda M. Tyer said Friday she recently learned of the plan by the nonprofit organization, which operates 11 addiction treatment facilities in the state, including a similar out-patient methadone treatment and support services clinic in North Adams.
"I just learned within the last few days that they will be leasing 390 Merrill Road," she said. "I have talked to city officials about the role the city might play."
Tyer added that she would encourage Spectrum to reach out to the neighborhood before any construction begins to explain what the treatment facility does and address the concerns of residents.
The mayor said it is her understanding that no special permits are required for that type of facility, but the site plan will be reviewed and state building code requirements would have to be met.
"That doesn't mean I don't request that Spectrum be a good neighbor," she said, "should the neighbors ask for a fence or lighting or landscaping."
She added that the methadone clinic "clearly has outgrown" the second-floor Summer Street space, which Tyer added provides "another data point in what we all know is an opioid epidemic, not just in Pittsfield, but in the state."
A new, free-standing facility with additional space "is part of the strategy" for addressing that addiction crisis, she said.
The Merrill Road site is approximately across the road from the Plastics Avenue intersection and is bordered by Laurel Street to the west and by Victor Street to the east.
Spectrum Health Systems Inc. officials provided a confused message on Friday on whether the nonprofit addiction treatment services entity plans to move its methadone clinic from Summer Street to Merrill Road.
Donna Pellegrino, vice president for business development with Spectrum, confirmed that the number of patients at the Summer Street clinic has grown since it opened in 2012 to some 450 patients per day, prompting a search for another site in Pittsfield.
Pellegrino said she thought the clinic would be moved in the near future, but added that she did not have details of permitting or other aspects of a new site. She said she would refer the question to another Spectrum official, but he could not be reached prior to press time.
Pellegrino also later called The Eagle to say her colleague had said it was premature to release any information about a new clinic site.
In Pittsfield, Spectrum has offered medically assisted treatment for opioid or other substance addiction, which also includes mandatory psychological and educational services for those receiving daily doses of methadone.
Methadone reduces addiction withdrawal symptoms to heroin without providing the same effects.
The Worcester-based Spectrum also offers detoxification services, in-patient intermediate and longer-term residential services at some of its other sites in Massachusetts.
"I would say the need has been exploding," Pellegrino said, referring the situation with opioid addiction statewide and in the Berkshires.
Because of the growing number of addicted patients coming daily to the Summer Street site, just off North Street and close to entertainment and restaurant venues and other businesses, some city officials and business owners have said privately they understand the need for services but would like to see the clinic move to another location.
Other Spectrum facilities are located in Framingham, Leominster, Milford, Saugus, Southbridge, Waltham and two in Worcester.
For more information on the range of Spectrum Health Systems services, go to www.spectrumhealthsystems.org.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.
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