Opposition to Jefferson-supported addiction clinic off on wrong foot

Posted 8/7/19

Taking advantage of a long-overdue change in state law, Jefferson County police and social agencies are working together with organizations across the Olympic Peninsula to improve our antiquated …

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Opposition to Jefferson-supported addiction clinic off on wrong foot


Taking advantage of a long-overdue change in state law, Jefferson County police and social agencies are working together with organizations across the Olympic Peninsula to improve our antiquated mental health system.

One element of that project is a plan to build at Sequim a clinic to provide medicine-assisted treatment for opioid addicts from Jefferson and Clallam Counties. To encourage regional projects like this, the State of Washington is kicking in $7.2 million for construction.

But a fiery new citizen group co-led by legislative candidate Jodi Wilke of Port Townsend has taken the low road in efforts to kill progress on the Jefferson-Clallam partnership.

Lunging at the Jamestown S’Klallam in the second sentence of its online manifesto, “Save Our Sequim” makes clear that it thinks mislabelling this a S’Klallam plot will be a winning strategy.

To do so, Wilke’s group ignores the clear record: this clinic is the brainchild of Jefferson and Clallam County police and social agencies, Jefferson Healthcare, Olympic Medical Center and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s Family Health Clinic. Patients from Jefferson County and Clallam County alike need these services, which explains the two-county involvement.

Meanwhile Wilke, who needs every vote she can get out of Republican Clallam County, is doing her best to help “Save Our Sequim” whip up fears of an addict invasion in lily-white-haired Sequim.

People in Sequim have every right to question, to analyze and to worry about the consequences of hosting an addiction treatment center in the zoned-for-medical plat behind Costco.

But “Save Our Sequim” has gotten off on the wrong foot as a vehicle for Wilke’s campaign for the State Legislature. If there is responsible resistance to the treatment center, it needs new leadership, a new name and a new approach:

Assertions without evidence are just reckless fear-mongering. If there is independent peer-reviewed research to support claims that treatment centers “Always” this and “Never” that, opponents should have already provided it. As a nurse, Wilke knows, or should know, what credible research reads like.

Better be honest about the fact that the center proposed for a generous 19.5 acres on Sequim’s Miracle Mile is one part of a Peninsula-wide plan. So far, Wilke and “Save Our Sequim” are ignoring the big picture being assembled by mental health experts, legislators, tribal leaders and experienced healthcare administrators who have wrestled with these problems for decades.

Back immediately and permanently away from the cynical decision to make this about the S’Klallam Tribe. While “Save Our Sequim” members were fist-pumping their way through  the last few years’ cable propaganda, S’Klallam government was earning a national reputation for taking the difficult long view in solving problems that face all of the peoples of the Peninsula. Compared to that, Sequim’s self-declared saviors’ objections look pitifully short-sighted.


Face some facts:

Sequim sits smack in the middle of the road system of Clallam County, where 37.8 MILLION opioid prescription pain pills were handed out from 2006 to 2012, according to DEA databases available to anyone with a smart phone. That’s 76 pills per person per year in Clallam, which is three times the per-capita flow of opioids through Jefferson County.

So, as the state looks to provide small regional treatment centers, why would the Olympic Peninsula’s clinic be placed anywhere else? Sequim is the geographic center of the Peninsula’s problem.

“Save Our Sequim” members can take their feet from their mouths if they bone up on the S’Klallam origin of their town’s name. The Tribe they are demonizing hunted the Dungeness Prairie hundreds if not thousands of years before you sold a Seattle, Portland or California house and fled here to duck the consequences of all those votes you cast or didn’t cast back home.

Maybe the PDXers among you shouldn’t have voted for Freeway Frank Ivancie or Bud Clark. Seattle went sideways on you? How many school board or city council meetings did you ignore? San Somewhere lost its charm? Maybe you should have voted for the party that wasn’t in the pocket of the developers. It’s not too late, though, to take a calm look at the divisive and bombastic style Jodi Wilke is selling.

Government isn’t always the enemy, as you may have noticed when you have medical coverage and hard-working twenty-somethings do not.

All those years you were trashing your elsewhere home, the Jamestown S’Klallam were right here, building strength and putting it in service to people all across the Peninsula who enjoy good jobs and healthcare thanks to the Tribe.

Those who’ve succumbed to addiction - somebody else’s kids -  who you don’t want in your town should just bug off to... where? Western State Hospital?

It’s the second-eldest facility in all of state government, and, by many accounts, an 806-bed monument to the long-ago-discredited warehousing of the mentally ill.

For those of us who have been here for more than just our golden years, it’s hard to ignore that Sequim has fiercely guarded a bubble that insulates it from the social problems that perplex Port Townsend, Port Angeles and and other Peninsula towns.

In Jefferson and Clallam’s county seats, local, state and federal agencies pick up the wreckage that result from the real gateways to drug use: childhood neglect, abuse and pedophilia, adult sexual violence and post-traumatic stress. When, exactly, will it be Sequim’s turn to host some of this hard work? Not on Jodi Wilke’s watch, apparently.

“Save Our Sequim” sounds like people who bought in Sequim because they believed in a fairy tale: that you could amass a fortune and then run away from the consequences of the very modernity that enabled your success.

Until this hastily-assembled pressure group takes a mature approach, the only names that suit its rhetoric are “S.H.A.M.E.L.E.S.S.” or “N.I.M.B.Y.”

-Dean Miller

(The Leader’s Editorials are the opinion of the Editorial Board: Publisher Lloyd Mullen; co-owner Louis Mullen; Editor Dean Miller and Leader readers who lobby The Leader. Each editorial is signed by the person who writes that editorial on behalf of the Editorial Board.)


4 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • garynovak418

    Dear Sir,

    It seems disingenuous to point fingers at the Sequim folks objecting to an addiction treatment center when Port Townsend refused a state funded psyche ward at our local hospital. Better to do some more research about several projects serving the poor that have been rejected here before aiming your vitriol next door.

    Thank You,

    Gary Novak

    Port Townsend

    Thursday, August 8, 2019 Report this

  • Thomas Camfield

    This entire project has been well and altruistically put together. Sequim also has been not only a sort of sister city but also has been at the forefront of medical advancement. I, myself have been referred there in somewhat recent years for three types of medical specialists, in two instances involving prolonged observation and treatment—and also twice for advanced dental care. And the S'Klallams also in recent years built a fine new medical center in Sequim. No logical reason in the world for the Port Townsend area not to pull its weight a little and jump right into this project—and best wishes to Sequim.

    Nothing could be more in step with the times than dealing with opioid and other addictions, and I totally trust and am grateful for any S'Klallam leadership role in this project. The Tribe has worked wonders for its own and surrounding communities for quite some time. Too bad some higher levels of government don't emulate the Tribe's efficiency in getting things done for the good of society.

    Thursday, August 8, 2019 Report this

  • PTArtist

    I am sorry to seethe Save Our Sequim signs & efforts. We desperately need these kinds of facilities throughout the State, and Sequim has the central location to serve the entire Peninsula.

    I deeply regret both the lack of psychiatric beds and addiction treatment facilities throughout the country. A significant number of people, our neighbors, become homeless because treatment is just not available. Well funded and well planned facilities are usually managed well also, with very little negative impact on immediate neighbors or the larger area.

    It is my understanding that the Jefferson Healthcare decision not to take construction funds for a psychiatric unit was based on legitimate practical considerations, rather than unwarranted fear, or concern for the town image.

    All towns of any size already harbor many worse neighbors who provide no countering positive benefits to the community.

    And of course Sequim lost any pretension to tiny country town status long ago, with the arrival of COSTCO, Walmart, Office Depot, and the highway by-pass. I hope the fear mongering efforts of this group fail dismally.

    Wednesday, August 21, 2019 Report this

  • Thomas Camfield

    This is a personal thing with me and my greater extended family—several of whom are here today only because of having been pulled back from the brink of-oblivion by rescue from addiction. There are some very thin lines involved in mental health. Despair is deadly.

    Friday, August 23, 2019 Report this