A Winnebago that will be transformed into a mobile methadone clinic has arrived in Halifax. The vehicle, which will be operated by Direction 180, is the solution to a heated debate that saw the community of Fairview speak out against a permanent clinic.
Cindy MacIssac, the executive director of Direction 180, received a cheering welcome as she arrived at the Gottingen Street clinic in the Winnebago.
"It feels so great," she said. "There's still a lot of work to be done, but the fact that we've got a mobile here in Halifax, it's a miracle."
The mobile was initially purchased in July after Dave Chaisson, owner of the City of Lakes Pharmacy, made a $25,000 donation to the organization.
But Direction 180 couldn't afford to renovate the vehicle and pay for operating costs.
At the same time, the group was planning to open a clinic in a home on Dutch Village Road in Fairview. When word of that plan spread, businesses in the area started a campaign to buy them out. The community raised more than $520,000 in a week.
MacIssac conceded Direction 180 should have consulted with the community before choosing a home to operate a clinic.
"I'm surprised at the lengths that the community will go, to not have addicts in their community," said MacIssac. "But at the same time, we've got a win-win solution."
Of that money, $100,000 was put towards the mobile clinic, which the community agreed was a suitable solution to treat addicts in the area.
MacIssac said the current waitlist sits at 300 people wanting methadone treatment. The majority of those people live in Fairview. She said with the new mobile clinic, they expect to cut the list in half.
"At the end of the day, the most important thing is the people on the waiting list, the people that are in need of treatment, the people that want to improve their lives."
The vehicle will now undergo upgrades before it's ready to hit the road. MacIssac hopes to have the work done in a few weeks. Then, Direction 180 will hire a security driver to operate the vehicle. They'll also have a nurse and a physician on board.
Direction 180 will consult with the community to pick stopping points to treat the addicts.
MacIssac said people are grateful that the clinic will be able to treat people all over the city.
"The mothers are saying, 'Oh my god, you're saving my son's life.'"