Sears, Miceli Trade Barbs Over Detox Center
State representative candidates in the 19th Middlesex District look to draw distinct differences as campaign enters final two months.
The candidates for state representative in the 19th Middlesex District agree that the re-opening of the Massachusetts Health Department Detox Center on the campus of Tewksbury Hospital is a good thing.
But that's as far as it goes.
State Rep. Jim Miceli, D-Wilmington, and his GOP challenger, Tewksbury Selectman Doug Sears, differ significantly on who has done what to boost Tewksbury Hospital and the agencies that share its campus, both now and in the past.
"(Sears) had absolutely nothing to do with it," said Miceli of the efforts of legislators to get the Detox Center re-opened. "It was myself, Tommy Grogan, Kevin Murphy. (Sears) was never involved with that."
For his part, Sears acknowledges that he wasn't part of the process to restore the Detox Center but says that's exactly the problem. He says legislators representing Tewksbury have a habit of not communicating with the Board of Selectmen and including them in the efforts to promote local projects on the state level.
"There are certain projects that should definitely start at the local level," said Sears, who said if he is elected, he would establish strong relationships and lines of communication with local boards in Wilmington and Tewksbury.
Sears, who is a former chairman of the Tewksbury Hospital Board of Directors and served on that board for 14 years, questioned how good of a friend to the hospital Miceli has actually been during his tenure on Beacon Hill.
"When it comes to budgets for the Department of Mental Health, the Legislature has to be involved," said Sears, adding that many times, during his years on the board, the budget for the hospital came up short of what was needed. "(Board member) Dick Morris and I had done a good job of raising $400-500,000 to pay for things that the Legislature's budget wasn't paying for."
Miceli said that as a state representative, he has helped many constituents or their family members get the medical or mental health treatment they need and that he knows well the value of the Detoc Center.
"I've gotten a lot of calls over the years from people trying to get family members into the Detox Center," he said. "These are people who want to get their lives back on track and this is an important first step. So many people die from overdoses, a program like this saves lives."
Miceli cited the example of a woman he knows who went through a program at the Detox Center, had been clean and sober for five years and is now the vice president of a local company.
Sears agreed that the Detox Center is a valuable program and is a good fit for the Tewksbury Hospital Campus.
"It's the right type of place for that type of program and it's been that way since 1854," he said.
The detox center closed in 2010 due to a lack of funding, is set to re-open by early 2013.
The center will be operated by Northeast Behavioral Health and will provide inpatient drug and alcohol detoxification, according to an article on Bostonherald.com.
Before closing in December 2010, the center served as many as 160 patients a month, according to the Herald article. Those patients were forced to find alternative treatment centers close to Boston.
According to an article appearing in the Lowell Sun, Gov. Deval Patrick has decided to increase the State Department of Mental Health reimbursement from $222 to $286 per patient per day. In addition, the number of beds at the facility will increase from 24 at the time it closed to 32.