Appeal for methadone clinic fails

Published 9:38 pm Monday, March 30, 2009

A fair hearing officer ruled yesterday that GASKH Corp. d/b/a Chilton County Treatment Center cannot operate a methadone treatment facility in Chilton County.

Former Supreme Court Justice Terry Butts was appointed by the State Health Planning and Development Agency’s Certificate of Need Board to preside over an appeal of a decision that denied the application for a methadone clinic on Holiday Inn Drive in Clanton. The final decision Monday also denied the application for construction and operation of the Chilton County Treatment Center.

District Attorney Randall Houston said yesterday he is pleased with the decision.

“Without a doubt, he made the appropriate decision in denying the appeal of the Chilton County Methadone Treatment Facility,” he said yesterday. “This lengthy process took cooperation from all levels to include political leaders and community citizens. It just goes to show that when concerned citizens work together, the good guys do sometimes finish first.”

Two years ago, Susan Staats Sidwell, who owns the Shelby County Treatment Center near Alabaster, filed a request with the Certificate of Need Board to have a methadone treatment facility in Clanton. Her Shelby County office uses liquid methadone to treat patients addicted to certain drugs, and she wanted to open an office in Clanton because she felt there was a need for a facility in the community.

When this news broke, residents around the area signed petitions against the proposed clinic, and local leaders including Houston, Sheriff Kevin Davis, Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver, Chilton County Commissioners, Rep. Jimmy Martin and Sen. Hank Erwin also opposed it.

In November 2007, the Certificate of Need Board denied the request during a meeting in Montgomery. Sidwell appealed the decision to get a hearing before a fair hearing officer.

Now, the decision could be appealed to the Alabama Court System.

Houston said their office has investigated numerous cases in which death resulted from the use of methadone.

“This is not something, even under the guise of being used for medicinal purposes, that needs to be readily available to the public,” Houston said.