A methadone and buprenorphine distribution clinic in Burlington has been closed for months, according to a representative from the Howard Center.
Local 22 & Local 44 News was told about the closure by a viewer who felt the public was not properly notified.
The Howard Center clinic, located in the 1 South Prospect Street building, closed in January, according to Martie Majoros, assistant director of communications at the Howard Center.
It opened in 2002 before Vermont’s hub and spoke model of drug addiction treatment was created.
Methadone and buprenorphine are medications used to treat people who are addicted to opiates, including heroin and some prescription painkillers.
While it wasn’t publicized, Howard Center CEO Bob Bick says the 200 patients, their families, referral sources, physicians, the University of Vermont Medical Center, and other partners in the community were well aware of the transition.
Patients are now receiving their treatment at the Howard Center Chittenden Clinic on San Remo Drive in South Burlington.
“It was a very small space. It was not an efficient space. It didn’t best meet the clinical needs of the clients we were serving,” said Bick about the Burlington location. “We thought we could better meet it and be more efficient by combining the operation in South Burlington.”
The concerned viewer also asked about patients being given methadone and buprenorphine for years without an “exit strategy.”
“People receive that medication as long as it affords them an advantage over not taking that medication. That’s the same as any medication that any physician prescribes. Whether we’re talking about medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, it really doesn’t matter. If the medication is benefitting the individual than they should be continuing to take it,” Bick said in response.