SANFORD — Grace Street Services plans to lease a vacant methadone clinic in south Sanford and include other forms of treatment for opiate addicts.

Marty O’Brien, co-owner of the Lewistonbased company, said Monday that the facility at 69 Eagle Drive in Sanford Industrial Estates will also offer suboxone treatment, intensive outpatient therapy and an array of individual and group counseling.

In the long term, O’Brien said, he is exploring further expansion to primary care, either in a separate facility nearby or on site.

“The primary care (physician) has a really good sense of who the patient is,” he said.

The facility became vacant last fall when Spectrum Health Systems, a Massachusettsbased company, closed its doors after about one and a half years of operation. Kristin Nolan, vice president of Spectrum’s outpatient services, cited a lack of financial government support. At the time of its closing, Spectrum Health served 100 patients.

Grace Street Services is co-owned by O’Brien and Tim Cheney, who currently have a Portland location. O’Brien said they are still talking about the plan with state officials, and will have to secure permits.

Cheney, whom O’Brien said has 34 years experience and was formerly director of a methadone program in Boston, will be on site and directing treatment models. Dr. Merideth Norris, an addiction medicine specialist, will be medical director.

Pending permitting and any renovations that might have to be done to accommodate more than one program, O’Brien estimated that the clinic would open this spring.

O’Brien said some of the state costs associated with treatment consists of transportation costs.He believes  a York County methadone clinic, combined with a broader offering of programs such as suboxone and more, will work.

The news was welcomed by others in the community involved with addiction recovery.

“With the closure of Spectrum Health Systems, we’re seeing people have to travel for treatment, another barrier to prevent people from getting on the road to recovery,” said Nichole Ivey, program director of the Sanfordbased Drug Free Communities initiative. “My hope is this will open up another possibility.”

“The more treatment we have, the better we are,” said Sanford Police Chief Tom Connolly, who is proposing to form a partnership with Maine Behavioral Healthcare or a similar agency to offer suboxone treatment. “I am very pleased a legitimate, evidence-based drug treatment program will reoccupy the vacant Spectrum practice. There is a need for both methadone and buprenorphine (suboxone) treatment for opioid addiction.”

Connolly is urging legislative support for a bill sponsored by Republican Sen. David Woodsome of Waterboro, which would increase MaineCare reimbursement for methadone to $80 from $60 a week.

“Treatment, not arresting and incarcerating users, is the only solution to the problem we are now facing,” Connolly said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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