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Methadone clinic opens in Lodi amid concerns

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Posted: Saturday, October 20, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:11 am, Tue Oct 23, 2012.

A Stockton doctor has quietly opened Lodi's first methadone clinic in Lodi Memorial Hospital's Urgent Care office, raising concerns due to the proximity to a local school.

Dr. Ernest Vasti opened the clinic on Monday at 1235 W. Vine St. after becoming licensed to provide specialized care for former heroin addicts. Methadone is believed to be less addictive and used as a replacement for heroin and other opiates.

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  • Kenneth Huntley posted at 1:00 am on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    Ken Huntley Posts: 42

    The Methadone Clinic is still operating on Lower Sacramento Road, and Ponce De Leon. As for the headshop on West Ln, wouldn't know, haven't been in that side of Stockton for quite a bit.

    Dr. Vasti is different from Aegis Medical System, Dr. Vasti is an individual who cares about his patients, trying to get them off of heroin, and other opiates, and to try to rehabilitate their life. Aegis on the other hand, in my most humble opinion only cares about the all mighty dollar, and goes through staff (including doctors) like a two year old going through toilet paper.

    Methadone isn't legal heroin, its a prescription drug that is there to help people ease off of the heroin so that they reclaim their life and it can be with the help of proper counseling and doctor supervision. Again, Vasti cares about his patients.

  • William Dawes posted at 11:35 am on Sun, Oct 28, 2012.

    William Dawes Posts: 116

    The people we would not need to worry about usually get their Methadone through programs at the hospitals.

    So it is the people we would worry about that use these types of clinics. As for the "feel goods" that think that feeding these people synthetic Heroin is some kind of great deed forget it. These clinics were created to give these people their synthetic Heroin so they wouldn't come and rob your house or commit some other crimes to get the money for street Heroin

    Before Dr. Washer was in LUSD, there was a Methadone clinic on Lower Sac Road in North Stockton. It was near Kennedy, Oakwood, John Muir and Delta Sierra Middle. Quite a few of the clinic's customers were hanging around Dentoni Park and causing students problems.

    It is now gone, as is the "Medical Marijuana" headshop on West Lane. These places attract too many undesirables and criminals. Except for keeping criminals from creating crimes, while they get it, I have not seen any data that these places are effective. Just another "urban Bandaid" to a much bigger problem, the supply of drugs coming over our open borders. So much for the War on Drugs. Can't really fight it when you ignore it. Plus the amount of "anti-Drug messages seems almost gone. In the media, all the kids see is a big message that people are trying to legalize drugs.

  • Tami Brown posted at 7:34 pm on Sat, Oct 27, 2012.

    Just a Regular Parent Posts: 1

    So glad for the clinic opening. Kudos to Dr. Vasti for taking all the heat. Yes, there is a drug problem in liveable, lovable Lodi, whether people want to believe it or not. Methadone may not be the answer for all opiate addicts, but it does help some of them.

  • Kenneth Huntley posted at 9:38 pm on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    Ken Huntley Posts: 42

    My first post was written with a bit of emotion behind it, and yes I was in fact upset with the LNS for publishing such a story. When something like this hits home, you tend to get a bit emotional in what you write.

    Its a catch 22 with the general public knowing where the Methadone clinic is, but overall I'm not worried about the general public knowing. Its just the ones that I mentioned earlier, the people who will harrass the patients. There's also the fact that there are people who will and do judge the patients. The negative judging is something that patients already have a hard time with, sometimes by their own primary care physicians, neighbors next door, etc. Don't get me wrong, not all people will judge the patients of the Methadone Clinic with a negative judgement, but its just a fear in general.

    As for the public being hurt regarding the privacy, please clarify what you mean. I'm not sure if you're referring to crime or if somehow the Methadone clinic itself would hurt the public?

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 7:45 am on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Mr Huntley stated... Darrel, I never mentioned the privacy of the clinic in the way you mentioned below...

    Mr Huntley, can you please clarify? I will outline my perspective and perception .If I am misunderstanding or have it wrong, please explain in detail.

    You earlier stated “Hopefully the Lodi News Sentinel has not hurt the clinic, by pinpointing where it is.

    In my view, you implied that LNS was irresponsible for reporting the news as to what actually happened in Lodi. You implied it was inappropriate as the clinic or it's customers might have been hurt as a result of the publication. It appears that you are suggesting that “privacy” was appropriate .I was suggesting that Lodian's right to “know” was more important than “privacy”.

    You stated... I just don't want to see the misinformed of Lodi, harassing patients of the Methadone clinic. In my view, you are insulting the people of Lodi. You are stating that the people are misinformed and that because of their ignorance, they might harass the clinic participants, and you do not want that to happen...

    I agree with you 100% as far as harassment... I would not want people seeking help harassed by anyone. However. But by doing this in private, you are ignoring the possibilities that something might not turn out well that could have been prevented had it been fully disclosed.
    What if, the public was hurt as a result of the privacy? In my view, people should have an opportunity to decide for themselves. You should not decide for others.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:46 am on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Exactly, when it comes to giving legal advise, since I am not a lawyer, I am always more comfortable letting others claim they have a clue... Again, thank goodness Ms Bobin is comfortable giving free legal advise to the LNS, she has a good heart. She is familiar with HIPPA laws as it relates to LNS. I am sure LNS can now rely on Ms Bobin's legal opinion if a law suit results from LNS reporting information on this clinic.

    By me stating I am clueless as it relates to HIPPA and it's relationship to LNS, obviously, they will not rely in any way on what I know legally( not that I think anyone would possibly consider posts in a blog legal advise, just talking conceptually in Ms Bobin's type of thinking)... It amazes me how often liberal people like Ms Bobin do and say things that can easily result in unintended consequences.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:38 am on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    "Sorry Ms Bobin, I have no clue...."

    I truer statement has never been spoken!

  • Shannon Mirfield posted at 7:30 am on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    Shannon Mirfield Posts: 42

    I fully agree with your post![smile]

  • Mike Adams posted at 5:29 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1572

    With the homeless situation as it is currently in Lodi, they're all over the place now. All over the place. Lodi Middle school is quite a distance from the areas around the Mokelume River where a lot of them camp out. As you move away from that area, the numbers seem to decrease, but I'm sure there are havens on the westside as well. They like to live in empty houses and there a plenty of them. I would suggest that if you have an empty house on the block, you pay close attention and call police if you see any activity there. Winters coming and empty homes are burned down every year by homeless people setting fires to keep warm.

    It's too bad, we don't have some sort of facility to house our homeless where it is warm in the winter, cool in the summer, has food and is safe.
    There are an awful lot of people here in Lodi, teetering on homelessness.
    Yea, Yea, looking for another government handout... I bet most of the homeless are not that way by choice. It's difficult to take personally, personal responsibility when your job evaporated and you had medical bills and.....

  • Kenneth Huntley posted at 4:32 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    Ken Huntley Posts: 42

    Darrel, I never mentioned the privacy of the clinic in the way you mentioned below. Sure, the LNS does have the right to publish where a clinic is, but at the same time there can be negative effects, is all I'm saying. Patients of the clinic want their privacy just as much as patients want their privacy in say, the Lodi Memorial Hospital Community Clinic-Millsbridge. I just don't want to see the misinformed of Lodi, harassing patients of the Methadone clinic.

    Susan, it was Lodi Memorial Hospital and the Salvation Army who worked with Dr. Vasti in getting this much needed clinic up and running. It shouldn't be surprising that LMH is allowing Vasti to lease the UC for a couple hours a day.

    Yes, there are a wide variety of people who are patients that take Methadone, all walks of life. As for "drug-dealers" getting a free high due to Medi-Cal? Where are you getting your misinformation from? Dr. Vasti has a no tolerance policy for people like that. If you seen his rules booklet, he is the more strict of clinic doctors in the area.

    There are people whom are on Methadone that are still actively using, Methadone is not a cure but a treatment to try to help curb the effects of the drugs. Being that I have family that has had issues in the past with substance abuse, I can say that it takes both the mental strength to want to quit along with the Methadone. Counselors are in the office to help with the people who truly want to quit. Sure the success rate may be low, but there is a success rate.

    Give it a chance you guys, a Methadone clinic does not mean students at Lodi Middle School will face an uprise in crime next to them. They may see homeless people go through the front and leave through the back doors, and wait for the bus, but that's it. It won't mean anything detrimental to this town.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 4:19 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Sorry Ms Bobin, I have no clue what you are talking about...

    I am familiar with HIPAA mandates as it relates to Section 125 Cafeteria Plans, Flexible Benefit Arrangements as well as Pension and Profit Sharing Plans, but news paper organizations reporting of clinics opening in Lodi are beyond my expertise.

    Thank goodness Lodi has you to explain it... good job Ms. Bobin. I'm sure Lodi News Sentinel will appreciate your legal advise. I'll leave it to you to advise the law to LNS as I am not a lawyer.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:54 am on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Baumbach wrote: "It is my opinion however, that people who do not take drugs and are effected by people who do should at least be informed of what is happening... knowing that a clinic exists and where it is located should be public knowledge."

    As a Licensed Insurance Agent who sells/advises clients on healthcare, it is inconceivable that Mr. Baumbach has no knowledge of the HIPAA. What prevents citizens from "staking out" this clinic to see who patronizes it in a perverted effort to "protect the community?"

    People deserve their privacy.

  • Susan Lumbert posted at 5:46 am on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    EvansMommie Posts: 1

    I am not opposed to addicted individuals receiving treatment for their problem. My issue is that this clinic was opened in Lodi without community awareness and across the street from Lodi Memorial Hospital and Lodi Middle School!
    Many people are not aware of methadone, it's pharmacological uses or the type of clients it will draw. Methadone is used to treat opiate addictions such as heroin, morphine, OxyContin, Vicodin, etc. The clients could be a variety from hardcore addicts addicted for 20+ years, people addicted to prescription drugs due to years of pain management treatment, homeless people, drug dealers looking for a free high that medi-cal pays for, youngsters who started using recreationally in high school or even younger and more. Sadly, every patient who is on a methadone program is not looking to change their life, get better or seek treatment... We are talking about active drug users and even sellers, some who have either current legal issues, are involved in crime, on parole, etc being just across the street from the kids and next to the hospital. Methadone clinics are known to attract active drug dealers because they know its a lucrative place to sell their drugs! This clinic was not brought into Lodi the right way, they brought it in through a loophole.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:37 pm on Sun, Oct 21, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Ron, I understand what you state is true, but I also thought the main use of this treatment was to treat people addicted to heroin.

    I have no problem with this clinic... I do not understand the need for secrecy…Seems to me if it has positive advantages and has a benefit to society, openness and education is more appropriate.

  • Ron Werner posted at 5:40 pm on Sun, Oct 21, 2012.

    Ron Werner Posts: 101

    Kenneth wrote "Ron, its the standard hours that most Methadone clinics run. Do some further research and you'll find that many hard working people do require methadone treatment for current/past addictions."
    I took your suggestion and found that methodone helps many people who were hooked on pain killers such as Oxycontin. They needed OC for pain caused by things completely out of their control - such as injuries and diseases. Things that could happen to anyone. Many said methodone gives them their life back. Thanks for your suggestion Kenneth.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:20 pm on Sun, Oct 21, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Ms Bobin stated...But no - he wants to stigmatize legal medical treatment for addiction by comparing it to "molestation."

    How absurd... I was simply stating that a local paper normally reports what is happening in it's community.You cannot blame the paper if something happens because it was made public.

    If I lived in the neiborhood where such a clinic existed, I would appreciate knowing so I could take action to avoid that area if I had concerns for my family.
    If people get involved with drugs, I think it wonderful that they take action to seek medical treatment to treat their condition.

    It is my opinion however, that people who do not take drugs and are effected by people who do should at least be informed of what is happening... knowing that a clinic exists and where it is located should be public knowledge.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:09 am on Sun, Oct 21, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Once again Mr. Baumbach has made irrational comparisons - these are people receiving medical treatment - HINT - it is a CLINIC run by MEDICAL personnel.

    But no - he wants to stigmatize legal medical treatment for addiction by comparing it to "molestation." People utilizing this clinic should be commended for participating in getting their lives in order.

    What's next? Would you recommend advertising the location of all psychiatric offices that treat drug, alchohol, sex, shopping, food, and whatever other addictions one might find frightening?

    Mr. Huntly is correct in his assessment when we have individuals who make unjustifiable statements such as this.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:59 am on Sun, Oct 21, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Hopefully the Lodi News Sentinel has not hurt the clinic, by pinpointing where it is...

    Mr Huntley, are you joking?

    Reporting that a doctor opened a clinic and where it is located is a responsibility I expect any newspaper to take. If something goes wrong, I would not assignblame to LNS, but to the people who caused the problem.

    Imagine if the LNS reported an area that woman were molested. Would you blame LNS for the next molestation saying they made criminals aware where to go to particpate in a crime?

  • Jeff Payne posted at 10:35 pm on Sat, Oct 20, 2012.

    Jeff Payne Posts: 7

    I stand by my comments. I am a fan of CSI...that doesn't mean I a think it in any way is a reflection of reality. By the way, Audrey has nothing to do with my remarks here.
    Mr. Huntley is correct, some of these folks have a coommute or professional careers. I think any imagined danger ought to be mitigated by the Lodi traffic officers that watch that area for speeders when children are walking to or from school.

  • Kenneth Huntley posted at 9:36 pm on Sat, Oct 20, 2012.

    Ken Huntley Posts: 42

    Ron, its the standard hours that most Methadone clinics run. Do some further research and you'll find that many hard working people do require methadone treatment for current/past addictions.

    To better explain why the clinic(s) open so early: John Doe works for CalTrans or perhaps he works as a construction worker and has to be at work no later than 7AM. It takes about fifteen minutes to a half hour to dose, depending on how crowded the clinic is, if John Doe has counseling, or if there's a shortage of dosing nurses. Thus why it opens at 5AM, for the people who need to get in early, to get to work early.

    The Methadone clinic probably did prefer it to open quietly, thus why Dr. Vasti didn't announce it to the world. Most people whom are addicts/ex addicts, along with the clinic staff prefer it to be basically anonymous to most. They do not want the publicity, they do not want people making assumptions and mostly they do not want to be harassed. Hopefully the Lodi News Sentinel has not hurt the clinic, by pinpointing where it is.

  • Ron Werner posted at 9:04 pm on Sat, Oct 20, 2012.

    Ron Werner Posts: 101

    Why is the clinic open at such strange hours? Open at 5:00 AM? Methodone users must be early risers. Must want to get an early start on the day. At least they can sleep in on the weekends when it doesn't open till 7.
    Jeff and Audrey - instinct is not necessarily a bad thing, It keeps a lot us out of trouble. Evidence is not nessarily a good thing, have you ever seen CSI?

  • Jeff Payne posted at 9:18 am on Sat, Oct 20, 2012.

    Jeff Payne Posts: 7

    If Ms. Nichols-Washer only knew. There are many members of the Lodi community who are in Methadone programs. Many are employed, tax-paying citizens. She probably knows one of these folks. They will be afraid to speak up because they mostly are not proud of the personal history that has them in such a program.

    Such an educated and important official in our community as Ms. Nichols-Washer surely has well-documented evidence for her concerns about about this clinic being located near a school. If so, let's hear it. However, I suspect her statement is based on instinct, not evidence.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 7:10 am on Sat, Oct 20, 2012.

    advocate Posts: 502

    As a member of A Hand Uo, Not A Hand Out, a homeless advocacy group here in Lodi, not-for-profit, we have been working very hard for two years to bring a full scale detox center here to Lodi to help all residents with their addictions, especially those who are on the verge of being homeless or are already there and addicted. I'm not surprised the city council and their uninformed management were unaware of the methadone clinic opening in Lodi. They certainly know when one of their local favorites opens another wine room or enterprise zone business, but such an important resource that is needed is on the forgotten list. In our dealing with the city of Lodi, their policy is to ignore the pleas and to let the churches and charities continue doing that job for them free gratis. Mr. Wood has been working with us and doing a fabulous job and we still continue to work with the Salvation Army and LMH to make this detox center open. Thank you, Dr. Vasti, for this great accomplishment and we welcome your methadone center to Lodi. Just why would Ms. Nichols-Washer make a statement such as that before this methadone clinic has proven itself? Maybe her way of thinking is what's wrong with the overpaid and dysfunctional LUSD administration? Why is it Lodians fear anything in their own "hood"? There are many Lodians who could use this facility themselves to kick their habits, too.



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