Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Operation PAR seeks to put its first drug treatment clinic in Hernando County

BROOKSVILLE — Every week, dozens of recovering addicts from Hernando County and points north head south to Operation PAR's outpatient drug treatment clinic in Port Richey.

Many are addicted to painkillers and voluntarily come in for three months to drink a small methadone cocktail to decrease withdrawal symptoms. They also meet with counselors. Some arrive well before dawn so they can get to their day jobs.

Hernando County — a place where prescription drugs killed more people than traffic crashes in the last few years, according to the Sheriff's Office — is due for just such a clinic, Operation PAR officials say.

"We really have identified the need to place something more convenient and close to the clients we serve," said Marvin Coleman, the company's vice president of community and business relations. The epidemic, Coleman said, "is pretty bad, and that just leads to why we're making the steps we're making right now."

On Monday, the Planning and Zoning commission will consider a rezoning request that would allow Operation PAR to set up the clinic in a former day care center on Kass Circle, just north of Spring Hill Drive. County planning staff is recommending approval for a special exception use permit.

The roughly 5,300-square-foot standalone building sits on a little more than an acre that is zoned for general commercial. There is vacant commercial land to the north, shopping plazas to the east and south, and vacant land zoned for multi-family development to the west. Operation PAR has committed to purchasing the property if the rezoning request is granted.

The Spring Hill clinic would be the first of its kind in Hernando, Coleman said, and Operation PAR's fifth to offer Medication Assisted Patient Services Program, or MAPs. The program aims to slowly wean addicts from opiates such as pain pills, heroin and Oxycontin.

Patients receive a physical examination, a laboratory workup and an in-depth assessment of their family support and employment status to create an individualized treatment plan that includes regular counseling.

The bulk of patients would arrive between 5:30 and 11 a.m. The volume would decrease until the clinic closes by about 2 p.m. or so, Coleman said.

There are few residences nearby. Among the closest is a condominium complex to the west, on Pinehurst Drive, property records show.

Signs announcing the rezoning hearing have been posted on the Kass Circle property, legal notices have appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, and letters have been sent to property owners within 250 feet. The county had received no correspondence from neighbors as of Wednesday afternoon, said planner Omar DePablo.

The commercial location without close residential neighbors should accommodate the center well, DePablo said.

"That way the citizens are less concerned and it's not adverse to the public interest," DePablo said. "It's a preferable spot."

Founded in 1970 as Parental Awareness and Responsibility to provide addiction and mental health services, the group currently employs some 425 people in Broward, Pinellas, Pasco, Lee and Manatee counties.

The company opened its Port Richey treatment clinic among a chorus of opposition from nearby residents. When the Times followed up a year later, police reported no major incidents and neighbors said they were pleasantly surprised that the loitering and crime they initially feared never materialized.

There are some basic reasons why, Coleman said.

Patients are in and out in minutes for their treatments, unless they are seeing a counselor, and often tell clinic officials about people they see loitering outside who shouldn't be there. Counselors walk around the building between appointments to make sure nothing inappropriate is going on, and the facilities are kept clean.

"We understand (residents are) a little wary about new things in their community, especially with the economy the way it is and property values being what they are," Coleman said.

"But once they get familiar with how we operate, most often we're able to develop alliances and good relationships because they see we're part of the community, not an outsider trying to destroy the lives they've established."

The clinic would be a welcome addition in a county that desperately needs more options for addicts seeking help, said Tresa Watson, executive director of the Hernando County Community Anti-Drug Coalition.

"I think it's a great plan because we have very, very, very limited resources for treatment here in Hernando County," Watson said.

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or tmarrero@sptimes.com.

Operation PAR seeks to put its first drug treatment clinic in Hernando County 07/06/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 10:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

    Blogs

    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  2. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  3. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot

    News

    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of WESH.com
  4. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  5. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]