Heroin addiction is a major, unrelenting, acute and chronic epidemic in Maine. This, despite enormous efforts by nearly everyone in law enforcement, media, politics and the health care professions, as well as everyday Maine people.

Acute care at Maine Medical Center for overdoses and complications is excellent; however, the quality of chronic addiction care there is questionable.

Addiction is now considered a disease by most experts, and treatment and rehabilitation are the management of choice. Jail is for criminals – not for curious teens and unsuspecting millennials. No addict wants to be one, and society recognizes the stigma.

A recent Press Herald article (“Maine Med launching substance abuse treatment program to help battle heroin crisis,” Nov. 7) chronicled an $800,000 initiative that MMC is establishing to fight the addiction epidemic. It includes a physician who is an addiction expert and two substance abuse counselors. This is astonishingly inadequate.

MMC features itself as the crown jewel of Maine hospitals. I agree, having trained and worked there for four decades. However, nobody does everything right.

According to recent Internal Revenue Service Form 990 filings – open to public inspection – MMC had total one-year revenue of over $1 billion, or $3 million daily. Also, it paid eight employees over $1 million each in salary and benefits in one year. Note also that MMC just opened five new operating rooms, costing a total of $40 million.

As hundreds of young Maine people die via the needle – and addicted babies enter our state, three per day on average – we have a domestic war of epidemiological proportions.

Put differently, $800,000 is only about six hours of income for Maine Medical Center. Shouldn’t MMC lead the way by chipping in and investing at least the same amount fighting the opioid war as it spent on the five new operating rooms – $40 million? That would be a crown jewel move.

Richard C. Dillihunt, M.D.



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