COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The opioid epidemic is killing more people than car accidents in Ohio. That’s what U.S. Senator Rob Portman said while touring a new Maryhaven drug treatment center in Merion Village Tuesday. He said the new facility will help more addicts get and stay clean. But, not everyone is happy about the center coming to their neighborhood.
Senator Portman said opioids are now the number one cause of death in Ohio. He said the new Maryhaven Addiction Stabilization Center will help change the game, but some neighbors worry it will do more harm than good.
“Are we going to have to sell our house and move? It’s frightening, it’s frightening,” said Merion Village resident Erica Gregory. “You’re bringing more addicts into our neighborhood? And, those addicts may end up on the street…they may choose not to go through with the detox process.”
Gregory doesn’t want to see the old Select Specialty Hospital on the south side of Columbus transformed into the 55-bed treatment facility.
Senator Portman toured the building with Maryhaven President and CEO Shawn Holt and others Tuesday as it undergoes renovations. He said something has to change and the new facility is the answer.
“Some EMS folks, firefighters, will tell you that they have revived the same person five, six, seven, maybe ten times. That’s not the answer. The answer is to yes, to use the Narcan to save somebody’s life, but then get them into treatment where they can actually deal with their addiction problem,” said Senator Portman.
Starting in October, addicts revived with Narcan will have the option to go straight to the Maryhaven Addiction Stabilization Center for rehabilitation, instead of being treated and released back onto the street from a hospital.
The hospitals have told us, hey, these patients are taking up all our space in the hospitals and there’s no real treatment for them,” said Holt. “The gap here was instead of released out into the street, they’d be released to us where we immediately can begin treatment.”
Gregory said she knows the treatment center is needed but said residents only learned about the facility this summer. She said it feels like no one cares.
“It’s coming and it’s extremely disheartening because Maryhaven did not choose to involve us in the process at all,” said Gregory.
Holt said Maryhaven is listening and has a plan.
“Safety of the community is our utmost concern and before we open I want to let those community people know that we are going to deal with the security issues that we have here,” said Holt.
The facility is set to open October 1st. Maryhaven said last year alone more than 4,000 people died of unintentional overdoses in Ohio.