BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Currently more than 600 people are on a waiting list for methadone treatment, at the DART clinic on Main Street in Buffalo. All 435 slots for patients at the facility are currently filled, and doctors explain it can take months to get to to the top of the list.
In order to Increase the number of people accepted into the program, more physicians would be needed, among other changes.
Currently, two addiction specialists work at the clinic and only about a dozen are available throughout the Buffalo area.
Dr Richard Blondell, says there's a nationwide shortage, with only 3,000 addiction medicine physicians around the country.
"One of the links to this whole puzzle, are physicians. They have the ability to prescribe medications that are very helpful. And they have the medical knowledge to see addcition in the entire context.. of the patients entire medical history.
The addiction medicine program, at the University at Buffalo, is one of the 37 training programs in the United States, that trains physicians in addiction medicine.
People who have completed their primary physician training, like family medicine, and sub-specialize in addiction medicine, come to the facility to train for a year.
Out of the six physicians trained at UB, four have stayed in Buffalo.
But the program is at risk. ECMC, is looking to cut $60,000 of funding annually from the program , that the hospital has given for the last three years.
"We have always used creative funding, from one year to the next, to try and train physicians, but it would be nice to have a reliable steady stream of revenue that we can use to train doctors, Dr. Blondell said.
ECMC told two on your side: The prior administration made a decision to move money from training to treatment, to have more boots on the ground to deal with the epidemic.
In other programs across the coutnry, officials have recognized the drug problem, and allocated funding from county budgets, and state budgets, for physician training,
like in Louisville Kentucky.
"The number of patient that want our help, really exceeds our ability to be able to take care of them all," Dr. Blondell said.