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Now I ask you--who are the people to be feared--the patients "sitting quietly in the lobby reading newspapers" or the townspeople screaming "prostitute" at patients and leaving bags of dog shit on the clinic doorstep?
Methadone clinic sparks fear
Residents don't want it; centre says 'we're good neighbours'
BY CRAIG PEARSON, THE WINDSOR STARAPRIL 7, 2010 2:05 AM
Dr. Tony Hammer, founder of the Erie-St. Clair Clinic, updates his information with a patient on Tuesday. Neighbours are worried about the clinic opening up in the 1500 block of Lincoln Road. Photograph by: Scott Webster, The Windsor Star, The Windsor Star A new addiction clinic in a residential area of Windsor has given new hope to addicts but new fear to neighbours. The former 2,000-square-foot Drouillard Road Clinic has transformed into the more modern, 5,000-square-foot Erie-St. Clair Clinic in the 1500 block of Lincoln Road, sandwiched between the Essex Terminal Railway and middle-class homes. Four doctors serve more than 400 patients. "I don't think it should be here," said Nycole Colley, who lives with family across the street. "It's bad for the kids in the neighbourhood. It should be in a hospital setting, or downtown. It shouldn't be in a residential area." Colley said she sometimes feels uncomfortable walking past the clinic, which opened a week ago, and plans to attend a meeting at the facility tonight to express her concerns. The clinic has fielded angry calls, while some patients have been called "prostitute" and other names. On Easter Monday, clinic staff found a garbage bag filled with dog poop waiting for them at the door. "It's all about stigma, discrimination, being judgmental, but they don't know what our patients are going through," Erie-St. Clair Clinic executive director Peter Richtig said Tuesday. "They tell us, 'You think you're do-gooders, but you're do-badders.' "They say, 'You can't fix these
people. They're broken. "They'll never be good.'" But Richtig said it's just the opposite: that patient after patient feel their lives were saved. Andy, a 30-year-old patient who did not want to use his real name, understands why neighbours feel uncomfortable. But as someone who was once robbed at gunpoint in Detroit, where he went to buy heroin, and who spent a night in jail after customs agents found drugs on him -- Andy considers the methadone clinic a lifeline. "Methadone helped me totally," said Andy, who was clean for nine years with the help of methadone but who recently started using dilaudid again. "The whole time I was on it I was clean, and that's what's important to me. I know it helps a lot of people." Dr. Tony Hammer, who founded the Drouillard Road Clinic and now leads the new facility, believes it will benefit the community. "When we first moved into the methadone clinic on Drouillard Road, there was concern among the neighbours and various meetings were held," he said. "That was 12 years ago, and I think we've amply proven that we're good neighbours and that we had a beneficial effect on the neighbourhood in terms of reducing drug-related activity." The two-storey beige building on Lincoln provides opiate treatment through methadone and alcohol treatment through naltrexone.The facility will include an outreach office of the House of Sophrosyne substance-abuse program for women, and hopes to include counselling services in the near future for men. Hammer said the move has already boosted patients, who feel more comfortable in the larger, nicer offices. On Tuesday the waiting room was filled with people quietly reading newspapers and magazines. "I honestly believe that neighbours will come to realize that we're just neighbours and we will have no impact on the lifestyle of the area," Hammer said. "We're just another agency in the community providing badly needed services."
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