Sabrina Elliot, 40, who has been a client of the Allied Health Services methadone clinic since it opened on East Main Street, doesn't think the neighborhood is a good place for the clinic. The clinic will have to move after Medford officials discovered it's within 1,000 feet of a day care center, a violation of state statutes. - Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell

Methadone clinic too close to day care must close, says Medford

Medford officials have ordered a methadone clinic on East Main Street to cease operations within 90 days after the city discovered it is too close to a day care center.

City attorney Kevin McConnell sent the clinic, owned by Allied Health Services, a letter Friday ordering its closure because it is within 1,000 feet of the Sunshine Day Care Center on Portland Avenue.

According to the attorney, the clinic is in violation of Oregon Revised Statute 430.590 that regulates the distance methadone clinics must maintain from day care centers.

The City Council Thursday informally approved sending the letter at the request of the police department.

If the methadone clinic fails to comply with the letter, the city warns it will take further legal steps "to abate the nuisance activity."

The clinic opened at the location in 2008 and now serves 505 patients recovering from heroin addiction.

Clinic Director Kristen Hanson said in an email response Friday that the clinic received all necessary permits before it opened.

"We have always abided by all state and federal regulations for operations, and have worked closely with the state to provide the highest quality care," she wrote.

Hanson explained the clinic had just received the notification from the city, but would refrain from commenting further until the clinic has had a chance to review its next steps.

The clinic has about 20 employees, and dosing begins at 5:30 a.m. for patients who are going to work. Patients drink the methadone from a cup on-site.

Deputy Chief Tim Doney of the Medford police said a citizen complaint prompted the action by the city.

Neighbors suspected the methadone clinic was too close to the day care center, he said. The owner of the day care center declined to be interviewed.

In its original application with the city, the methadone clinic calculated it was 1,214 feet from the day care center, Doney said.

However, the city made its own measurement, determining the clinic was 897 feet from the day care center, he said.

According to Oregon law, the distance from the clinic to the day care center is calculated as the crow flies, rather than the walking distance.

Medford police haven't reported any significant crime problem around the clinic, though neighbors have complained about drug use and other nuisance activity in their yards.

The clinic built a 7-foot-tall, 270-foot-long fence to separate patients from the neighborhood.

The clinic also stepped up efforts to ensure patients don't loiter in the parking lot.

One of the patients, 60-year-old Jim Hitt of Medford, said he hasn't been happy with the location, so a possible move isn't of concern to him.

He said he's more concerned that the prescribed drug isn't better tolerated by the community.

"It's terrible that methadone gets a bad rap," he said.

Sabrina Elliot, a 40-year-old Medford resident, has been coming to the clinic since it opened.

"We've all said this is not a good place to have a clinic," she said.

Because no loitering is allowed near the clinic, she said many patients wander into people's yards, which she acknowledges is a nuisance.

Elliot, who said she hasn't used heroin for seven years, said she and other patients don't have cars, so they walk to the clinic.

Bob Biondini, a neighbor who has been critical of the methadone clinic, said he was surprised to learn of the letter.

"I don't have anything to say," he said. "I'm kind of in the dark. I'd rather not comment until I hear from the city."

Biondini said he had heard some rumors that the city had determined the methadone clinic was too close to the day care center.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email

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