Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer
An opioid treatment clinic has recently opened its doors here in Franklin. Hazelwood Healthcare of Franklin, located at 3271 Georgia Road, offers methadone and buprenorphine treatment combined with education, individual and group counseling, delivered by a multidisciplinary team. The office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) is designed to enhance access and improve utilization of buprenorphine (suboxone) medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services for Medicaid beneficiaries by establishing additional supports and reducing administrative barriers for primary care providers (PCP) providing these addiction services. Suboxone and Subutex are two such treatments offered at the clinic through OBOT. Methadone for treatment of opioid use disorder can only be accessed in an Opioid Treatment Program. In the past folks had to travel an hour away, to Clyde, Asheville or Toccoa, Ga., to receive this treatment for opioid addiction. Dr. Holmes, MD., Program Sponsor and Medical Director, knew there was a need for a treatment facility further west of Asheville, so he began establishing the Hazelwood Healthcare Clinic several months ago.
“I am excited to be able to offer life saving treatment and a standard of care that is the most researched and an effective treatment for opioid abuse,” said Dr. Holmes.
Opioid overdoses have skyrocketed since the late 1990s and in 2017, more than 47,000 deaths in the United States were the result of opioid overdoses. Many of them were from heroin and black-market fentanyl.
In Macon County opioid poisoning deaths have risen drastically since 2012. The WNCAP (Western North Carolina Aids Project) Program is located in the same plaza as the new clinic and has been offering a needle exchange program as part of their harm reduction initiative. People with addictions who take part in the syringe exchange program are five times more likely to end up in a treatment program than those who don’t.
Hepatitis “C” is also at epidemic proportions among people with addiction who use dirty needles. Full Circle Recovery, which offers substance abuse prevention and treatment, is also a neighbor to Hazelwood Healthcare. Those seeking help for their addiction can now walk over to the Opioid Clinic from either of the two facilities, to receive substance use disorder treatment options.
Hazelwood Healthcare offers clinical evaluations at intake appointments and dosing for patients from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily and from 8 to 10 a.m. on Saturday. Walk-ins can be taken from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. daily. The clinic is staffed by Dr. Holmes, MD; two Registered Nurses, one who serves as Program Director; and an Administrative Assistant. The clinic is strictly for addiction treatment and is not licensed to treat for pain. The clinic also offers counseling for methamphetamine abuse and other addictions that often accompany opioid addiction. For more information, call the clinic at (828)595-9000.
Dr. Holmes feels that it is important to be connected to the medical community and has already reached out to Angel Hospital and local physicians as well.
Counseling is an important part of drug treatment and the clinic offers several options for patients. Groups are held weekly and revolve around addiction education. Women’s groups are also offered, as is pregnant women’s counseling. Individual counseling is offered to those in need and at times, emergency counseling can be arranged for clients in distress. The clinic offers a self pay program and also accepts Medicaid for patients 18 and older. Cost for self pay clients is $12 per day and there is no waiting list. As of now the clinic is seeking accreditation by the Joint Commission. Medicare will be accepted after a full year of service in the community and full accreditation, which Dr. Holmes feels he will be able to offer to clients next year. Medicare is not just for seniors it is also an insurance for disabled adults, many of whom require drug treatment. Currently the clinic can accommodate 100 to 150 clients with a staff that includes two counselors. One counselor is required for every 50 clients enrolled in the program, with plans to add more staff as needed.