After more than two years on the road, Direction 180 is getting ready to retire its mobile methadone clinic.
Bought in Baltimore for $25,000 in 2012, the 2002 converted Winnebago needs a lot of maintenance: the heaters don't work, doors stick, and motors to pop out the stairs and a side extension are broken.
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- Maiden voyage for Halifax's mobile methadone clinic
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Repairs to the vehicle climbed to $16,000 last year. So the executive director of the non-profit group started fundraising to buy a new, more fuel-efficient bus.
Cindy MacIssac says a $160,000 bus is being customized in Yarmouth and is due to be delivered at the end of June.
She says private donations are covering the entire tab: $110,000 from the community, and $50,000 from MAC Cosmetics's Viva Glam Campaign.
MacIsaac says the mobile clinic, which currently serves 160 patients in four locations everyday, has been essential to helping people battle opiate addictions. There were about 300 people on the list, waiting for methadone treatment from six months to three years.
Now, the wait is just days.
Despite that success, MacIsaac says the bus still faces a backlash.
'My life has been saved with this bus'
MacIsaac says the new bus will be plain white and won't advertise Direction 180. She hopes that will make the mobile methadone clinic more acceptable as expansion is planned for this fall. MacIssac hopes to add Lower Sackville and a second Dartmouth location to the stops made by the bus.
One client fondly patted the bus while recalling her battle with opiate addiction.
"I know for myself, my life has been saved with this bus. Many other people are in the same boat. I have been a drug addict for 36 years and if it wasn't for methadone, I wouldn't be alive right now," the woman said.
"I have two children, two boys, and grandchildren. They need me and I need them. I can function daily. "
MacIsaac says she will also miss the old bus.
"It was quite a journey, bringing the bus from Baltimore to Canada. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears. The staff that work on the bus are committed. It will be a sad day to say goodbye to the bus. But it is a new beginning."