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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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SRHD opioid treatment program will move to new location later this year

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 24, 2022

Paul “Rip” Connell, CEO of Private Clinic North, a methadone clinic, shows a 35 mg liquid dose of methadone in March 2017 at the clinic in Georgia.  (Kevin D. Liles)
Paul “Rip” Connell, CEO of Private Clinic North, a methadone clinic, shows a 35 mg liquid dose of methadone in March 2017 at the clinic in Georgia. (Kevin D. Liles)

The Spokane Regional Health District Board of Health approved a 10-year, $4.9 million lease to move the opioid treatment services program from the health district building to a new location on West Eighth Avenue, just west of Sacred Heart Medical Center.

The move has been a long time coming for the health district’s opioid treatment program, which has grown over the years.

SRHD offers one of just a few methadone services in Eastern Washington, and people from rural parts of this side of the state seek treatment for opioid addiction there.

The health district offers an opioid mental health program, which will also move to the new location.

Misty Challinor, the division director of treatment services, said her team is continuing to grow as the demand for services continues.

They need more space.

The program occupies about three-quarters of the first floor of the health district building on West College Avenue and not quite a third of the second floor. Clinical providers are split between these floors, and Challinor said the new location will allow the team to be on one floor.

It will also mean the program can expand. There are about 1,110 patients who go to the health district for medication-assisted opioid treatment. For some patients, this might mean weekly visits, while others must get their dose of methadone, a synthetic opioid used to treat addiction, on a daily basis.

“This new location provides an opportunity for us to offer more services in the future,” Challinor said, which could include expanding mental health counseling.

The health district conducted a study of where the patients live and how ease of access will work at the new location. A 2021 review of patients in the program found that the three most common ZIP codes for patient addresses, which accounted for 43% of patients, were based in the Spokane core metro area.

The new location is only a 2-mile drive from the health district’s main building, and there is a bus stop less than two blocks away. Challinor said there used to be a stop right in front of the building, and she hopes that might be feasible again once the program moves.

If all goes well, Challinor expects her division to be moved in by Aug. 1, but inspections and other requirements from state and federal regulators will have to be met.

The program is predominantly funded through Medicaid, as well as some Medicare and private health insurance plans.

Medication-assisted treatment is an evidence-based approach to treating opioid addiction.

The district has several months to inform patients about the move, answer questions and get the transition right.

“Everyone is excited to have the space,” Challinor said.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is primarily funded by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, with additional support from Report for America and members of the Spokane community. These stories can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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