Drug rehab clinic plans halted in Crittenden

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By Amanda Kelly, Staff Writer


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As another drug rehabilitation clinic is considering Crittenden as a new location, residents and elected officials have expressed disinterest in the possibility during a June 4 meeting.

Crittenden Mayor Camilla “Kay” Patton said Toebben Properties has a northern Kentucky-based clinic looking at the former St. Elizabeth building on Violet Road as an outfit for a drug rehabilitation clinic. 

“What I have recommended to Mr. Toebben and his leadership is I’d like to see something more positive in that building instead of a suboxone clinic,” Patton said. 

However, following public and official feedback against the clinic from opening in Crittenden, Patton said The Recovery Center has decided against coming to Crittenden as of June 11. 

“They have decided to refrain from coming to Crittenden for business due to the citizens’ response and an improper fit for the community,” Patton said. “As mayor, I would like to commend (council member) Paula Lowery for her extreme involvement with the community in the effort to keep Crittenden a safe community.”

Several residents attended the June 4 meeting to speak against The Recovery Center opening. By a show of hands, Patton asked for those in attendance who were against the clinic, to which more than two dozen raised theirs. 

“My family is scared about having such a facility close to our homes, elementary school and local daycares,” said resident Kimberly Polewski. 

Carolyn Horn agreed with Patton, asking for something “more positive” to open in the community instead of a drug rehabilitation clinic. Between June 3-11, many Crittenden residents commented in support and against the clinic on Facebook posts. 

Toebben Properties agent Larry Rytel said The Recovery Center only saw the property once and it was still a question of whether they wanted to open a clinic in the former St. Elizabeth building.

“Nothing was close to being signed,” Rytel said. 

Recovery Center operations officer Justin Neace said they had been interested in Crittenden because databases show it’s an undeserved area with a problem with opioids and drug addiction. 

He said the center would’ve prescribed medicine-assisted treatment options to help those with an opioid addiction, including suboxone, but he said The Recovery Center would have a physician on-site and complete several random and sweeping drug screenings to prevent abuse during the treatment. 

“A lot of people get misconstrued (about suboxone),” Neace said. “Suboxone blocks the receptors (in the brain) for opioids, so it doesn’t help someone who takes an Percocet to feel high because the receptors are blocked.”

Last year, Ethan Health expressed interest in opening a clinic in the same building, but a text amendment in the zoning ordinance prevented Ethan Health from moving in because they wouldn’t have a full-time physician on staff, only a nurse practitioner. 

“Folks, I am 100-percent about having more reliable services to persons with those addictions to get assistance,” said Crittenden Volunteer Fire Department Chief Lee Burton. “But it’s kind of like, let’s build a 500-bed hotel here, but we’ve got no place to feed them,  and we’ve got no place for them to park — we have the same type of problem — we don’t have the same type of bus line. We don’t have the law enforcement this may require. (We don’t have) taxi services, secondary medical services. With Sun Medical north of Florence, the only true in-house behavioral medicine, it is constantly full. At this time, I don’t think this is going to be a good fit.” 

In February 2018, the Recovery Center in Jackson, Kentucky was sued by the Kentucky Attorney General’s office alleging the center “billed Medicaid for services and procedures that were not provided or that were not medically necessary, and causing unnecessary prescriptions of suboxone to be billed to Medicaid that were issued in violation of federal and state law regarding the provision of medication assisted treatment.”

Neace and three other individuals were named in the 2018 suit filed by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear. There’s a pretrial conference set for Aug. 9, 2019 in Breathitt County Circuit Court.