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Borough sending measurements to state on proposed clinic

| Friday, June 13, 2003

Mount Pleasant Councilman Joe Bauer thinks a methadone clinic proposed earlier this year by area physician Dr. Mamdouh El Attrache is a dead issue.

The Mount Pleasant councilman is getting ready to send measurement information as well as a map and pictures to the Department of Health, Division of Drug and Alcohol Program Licensure to try and prove that the location of the proposed clinic at 20 Main St. is in violation of state Act 11.

According to House Bill 1335, a methadone treatment facility "shall not be established or operated within 500 feet of an existing school, public playground, public park, residential housing area, child-care facility, church, meeting house or other actual place of regularly slated religious worship established prior to the proposed methadone treatment facility."

According to Bauer, the measurements taken by the police department are as follows: 128 feet from the proposed clinic to the street, 33- feet-six inches from the back of the proposed clinic to the houses on Depot Street and 465 feet from the corner of the property to the Harvest Time Church on Depot Street.

El Attrache first told the borough about his plans for a proposed drug treatment facility at a council meeting on Feb. 3 of this year.

According to El Attrache, the facility would help in the treatment of drug abusers and "would help to cure the disease of dependency."

He added that 23 people would be employed to provide psychotherapy, counseling and rehabilitation at the clinic, but in addition to all of that, the administering of methadone (a legal drug used to treat heroin and morphine addicts) would also be incorporated into the treatment procedures at the clinic.

Since that time residents and borough officials alike have shown displeasure with the proposed clinic.

Bauer feels that the Department of Health will probably not approve the license.

"When we told them about the violation of Act 11, they requested that we take the measurements ourselves and send them in," said Bauer. "I personally feel they didn't want to waste their time coming out here.

Once they see the map and the pictures, I think his (El Attrache) application will be denied. I feel pretty confident that it's a dead issue now."

However, Richard McGarvey, spokesperson for the Department of Health, said he cannot say for if the department will go to the site to take its own measurements.

"Because we're dealing with issues to open a licensed clinic, we make sure they're in compliance with all the laws, but we don't oversee the law."

McGarvey also said that even after the measurements come in, he did not want to make any predictions concerning if the license will be granted.

"We will certainly look at whether or not he's in compliance with state law, and that information will be considered when we make our decision," said McGarvey.

According to Bauer, no activity has been apparent at the site for some time.

El Attrache was unable to be reached when calls were made to his office.

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