Letter to the editor: Out-of-county rehab clients overwhelm community

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 28, 2023

In response to the “Franklin Furnace man charged with attempted murder of deputy” article from Wednesday:

When is enough going to be enough? 

Would this make a difference if the deputy died? How many more Medicaid-funded drug rehabs are going to open in Lawrence and Scioto Counties until action is taken?

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Our communities are overrun and a large amount of clients of these drug rehabs are coming from other counties in various parts of the State of Ohio to our home, with no connection to our area, other than a Medicaid-funded drug rehab/treatment provider bringing them here as a profit source.

I have learned that this gentleman is from Kenton and was in Scioto County for drug treatment. He left treatment yet stayed here and, obviously, was not becoming a productive member of our local community.

I would like to know what his connection to this area was other than mandated drug treatment. 

Our communities are being exploited by many Medicaid-funded drug treatment operations as a location to funnel out-of-county, addicted individuals — ordered by courts to attend drug treatment because our area is perceived as the best place to operate a Medicaid-funded drug rehab, because it offers lax regulations and cheap housing. 

Some of these entities follow the rules, many do not. 

Some are operating in our residential zoning districts in Ironton. Some provide less than sufficient supervision/quality of service and  some are motivated merely by profit and not a commitment to their craft. 

Apparently many are willing to sacrifice the well-being of our local communities for their Medicaid-funded profit.  

Make no mistake, People are getting rich from exploiting Medicaid and our community.

It is well known in the criminal justice system locally that other counties identify Lawrence and Scioto counties as destinations to send criminal defendants or probationers/parolees from their own counties — Fairfield, Athens and Pickaway counties, just to name a few. 

These individuals would not be coming to our communities other than to receive drug treatment or attend an inpatient drug rehab.  

Our local probation and parole departments have had to hire new staff just to handle the large influx of paroles coming into Lawrence and Scioto counties from other Ohio counties.

These local drug treatment entities should be responsible and sensible members of our community, and realize that our smaller communities here cannot handle this influx, that their short term Medicaid-funded paydays are at the expense of the long-term financial health and safety of the communities they’re operating in today. 

Obviously, we cannot count on these drug treatment entities to do so, as evidenced by what we are seeing on a daily basis here, therefore our local governments need to act!

The state government is behind on regulating these entities, but our communities are being affected now. 

We need effective, responsible drug treatment in this area, clearly. 

Those drug treatment providers should be providing services to our own members of the community that need the treatment, not turning Lawrence and Scioto counties into a colony used by other communities of the state to send individuals in need of treatment!

This past winter, a man who was living in a mental health service provider home here in Ironton murdered another man living in the same home with his bare hands about 100 feet behind my property.

Neither were from Lawrence County. 

I pay taxes here. I am raising a family here. I make an effort to be a productive member of the community here. 

I grew up here and intended to remain here in Ironton for the rest of my life — but why? Why is the safety of my family and other families like mine not being prioritized when it comes to the dramatic number of drug treatment entities and out-of-county clients being brought into the same community? 

We need to give kids a reason to come back here after college, not make people like myself wonder if it is worth remaining in the community I see as my home. 

We need to attract people who want to work and raise families here, because our area is one of the few areas in the entire country with consistently-decreasing population numbers.

Furthermore, I am aware there are counter arguments to the points in this post. 

People do deserve second and more chances. Over-incarceration is a bad thing and does not help society. People need drug treatment, absolutely. 

I’ve personally advocated for this a great deal in my professional and personal life. 

However, there’s a big difference in helping the members of our community that are struggling with addiction, vs. becoming the place to send out-of-county drug treatment clients, court-ordered defendants and probationers/paroles, when it is clear our community and its resources cannot handle this influx. 

We are being exploited in Lawrence and Scioto counties by many drug rehab/treatment providers for profit at the detriment to the well-being of our local communities.

This has to change NOW!

JT Holt