Eleven years ago, Doug Varney (then the CEO of Frontier Health and who is now the commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health) and I talked to city commissioners about keeping drugs and the people who push them out of Johnson City. Varney presented the facts and statistics about methadone and the damage it does to people and cities.
I told commissioners about the death of my young daughter, Bridgette, and how her loss has devastated my family. Commissioners voted unanimously that night to keep more methadone clinics from Johnson City. A large number of citizens were at City Hall to agree strongly with this move.
Methadone was already here and it is still here, but we don’t have to sanction it. Methadone has done irreparable damage to families in this state and in this country. Clinics are always developing new tactics to get us into their spider webs.
Recently, a clinic operator sued Johnson City alleging the city is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act for trying to block his application for a methadone clinic here. Let me say that the truest disability is being dead like my daughter.
That lawsuit was dismissed in federal court without prejudice. Had the case been dismissed with prejudice, we would be in a slightly better position at this junction.
Johnson City officials will be in Nashville today to address the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency, which is considering a certificate of need for a methadone clinic in Johnson City. I hope citizens have let state officials know our feelings on this issue.
The lives of our loved ones, family members and friends are at stake in this matter. As a doctor of mine once said: “We don’t need methadone in Johnson City. Period.”
Susan Barry lives in Johnson City. She believes her daughter, Bridgette A. Boudle, died in 2002 as a result of a methadone overdose.