Juneau Recovery Hospital to open methadone clinic

Posted: Sunday, October 26, 2003

The Juneau Recovery Hospital, a substance-abuse treatment facility within Bartlett Regional Hospital, will open an inpatient methadone detoxification program for opiate addiction.

Hospital officials said the detox program will serve patients who are addicted to opiate-based street drugs such as heroin and prescription drugs such as OxyContin.

Jan Walker, acting clinical director and nurse manager for JRH, said the hospital has secured the necessary state and federal licenses to begin the methadone program.

Last summer, the hospital received a $7,500 federal grant through the Denali Commission to buy a DEA-approved pharmacy safe to protect the opiate-based methadone.

The Denali Commission is a federal-state partnership designed to provide critical utilities, infrastructure, and economic support throughout Alaska.

Walker said methadone has a high street value and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration requires treatment facilities to install a pharmacy safe to prevent the drug from being stolen.

Once the 800-pound safe is installed and policies and procedures for administering the drug are put in place, JRH will begin accepting patients, Walker said.

The hospital already provides alcohol- and drug-detoxification services, but those in need of drug detox now are treated with non-opiate-based drugs such as Clonidine, said Dr. Verner Stillner, a physician at JRH.

"If someone comes in addicted to narcotics, we would, in the course of 10 days, give them methadone and then taper it down to zero," Stillner said of the new program.

The 16-bed recovery hospital also operates a public emergency services program to evaluate inebriated people picked up on the street, an outpatient treatment program, and an inpatient rehabilitation program.

Walker said the methadone detox program should begin within the next two to four months.

JRH already accepts substance abuse patients from the rest of the state, but once the new program is in place it also will accept patients in need of methadone.

The recovery hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. It receives funding from the city and the state.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothyi@juneauempire.com.

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