Northeastern Manitoulin FHT retains Opioid replacement therapy program

August 16, 2019

Manitoulin Expositor  article published August 14, 2019

By Michael Erskine, The Manitoulin Expositor

Mindemoya clinic will be considered to better serve the needs of Central, West End patients


MANITOULIN – Sometimes trying to do a good deed can backfire with unintended consequences and so it seems to have been the case with a recent “good will” consultation held with members of the Central Manitoulin municipal council to provide a heads up on efforts to improve access to those living with addictions in the West End of Manitoulin.

Subsequent to the council presentation by a representative of Dr. Suman Koka’s clinic in Mindemoya as the potential host for an additional Manitoulin opioid replacement therapy program, a flurry of misinformation exploded on social media, including suggestions that the current program taking place in Little Current would be pulling up stakes and moving to Central Manitoulin. According to Northeastern Manitoulin Family Health Team manager Judy Miller, also the spokesperson for Dr. Suman Koka of the Northwood Recovery’s Island operations, that is emphatically not the case.

“We are not closing Little Current,” she said.

Currently there are programs running in Wiikwemkoong, M’Chigeeng and Little Current to assist those dealing with addictions and those residing in the rest of the Island can self refer to the program at the Northeastern Manitoulin Family Health Team. While there are discussions planned with the steering committee overseeing addictions services on Manitoulin on how to improve access for those residing in the western portion of the Island, those discussions, while scheduled, have not yet taken place, let alone settled on a plan for improved access—Facebook reports notwithstanding.

“People can still self refer to Wiikwemkoong and M’Chigeeng and everyone else can contact the Northeast Manitoulin Family Health Team,” said Ms. Miller.

The issue of opioid addiction is still a major challenge on Manitoulin, admitted Ms. Miller, but the success of the program has been nothing short of outstanding. “Of the 140 cases originally left stranded when the Toronto company (that previously offered opioid replacement therapy on Manitoulin) pulled out, 83 percent are stabilized on suboxone, have their families back, their jobs back,” she said.

With the current system of treatment program placement, most of those tackling their opioid addictions are able to do so in an atmosphere that not only protects their privacy, but ensures that they are not subjected to the societal stigma attached to addictions.

The steering committee dealing with the access to addiction treatment on Manitoulin consists of the executive directors of the health centres, family health teams and Dr. Koka.

Those struggling with addiction issues are urged to contact their local health centre or the Northeastern Manitoulin Family Health Team to learn more about the support services in place to provide assistance. This newspaper will be reporting on any planned expansion or increased access plans as that information becomes available—those currently managing their lives thanks to the current programs are urged to disregard any social media commentary regarding those programs.

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