San Mateo County will hand off the operation of its methadone clinic, and the more than 200 patients who depend on the service, under a pending approval Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.
Independent health care provider Bay Area Addiction Research and Treatment, Inc. (BAART) is prepared to assume control of the program at the current location on the Veterans Affairs campus in Menlo Park, according to a memo to the board filed by county Health System Director Jean Fraser and CEO of the San Mateo Medical Center Susan Ehrlich.
Methadone is administered to patients attempting to rid themselves of addiction to opiate-based narcotics such as heroin, Oxycontin, Vicodin, morphine, or other similar substances.
The county has operated the methadone program for the past 10 years: 235 patients currently rely on it in order to receive their medication, according to the memo.
Under the board's approval of the transition, BAART will take control of administering care to all patients without any interruption of service, according to public documents.
The methadone program currently costs the San Mateo Medical Center $900 a day per patient, and a cost expected to rise next year to $920 according to the memo.
The county stands to save $626,442 annually by allowing BAART to assume responsibility of operating the program.
Currently, county staff and the Board of Supervisors are working together to find ways to cope with a budget deficit of nearly $50 million.
The county has been looking into the feasibility of closing the program since 2009. At that time, it selected BAART as the most qualified provider available to assume operation of the service.
According to the memo, 12 of the 14 county employees currently working in the methadone program will be located to another branch of the county's health care system if the oversee change is approved.
In a separate memo, Fraser and Ehrlich are also requesting the Board of Supervisors approve spending $311,110 to extend the methadone program's lease for space on the Veterans Affair campus in Menlo Park through February.
This will allow for a seamless transfer of the methadone program from the county to BAART, and will also provide extra time for each organization to search for potential new locations to host the service, according to the memo.
Should the Board of Supervisors approve the program switching hands, the State and Drug Enforcement Agency would need to approve new licensing. Once granted to BAART, the new provider will assume responsibilities included in the remaining lease terms.
In all, according to the memo, the performance of the methadone program is expected to improve after the transition is complete.
"It is anticipated that patient satisfaction results will increase from 81% to 83%," said the memo.
The Board of Supervisors will address this issue, and more, Tuesday during the regularly scheduled board meeting that will begin at 9 a.m. in the Board Chambers at 400 County Government Center in Redwood City.