Ana, Stephanie and I spent last Thursday like we’ve been spending many days these past couple of weeks since MURL started: wandering South Philly in search of anything remotely newsworthy. And while the weather was beautiful, the day had been anything but eventful – that is, until we turned to walk down Washington Avenue and noticed a long line forming on the sidewalk. We looked around for a sign or anything else to indicate what could be going on, but the area was otherwise unremarkable. We watched a man casually cross the street and make his way toward the line, a small cup of bright orange water ice in his hand.
“Hey honey, I saved you a place!” A woman yelled to him with a raucous laugh.
Other people in the line giggled at this statement, but the man just took his place off to the side and slowly ate his water ice, unfazed. Group 13 figured that this was as good a time as any to find out what was really going on.
“Excuse me sir,” Stephanie approached the man. “What is this?”
“What do you mean?” he asked, still eating.
“Well, what’s going on here?”
“Oh. It’s a methadone clinic,” he said, little emotion in his voice.
That would explain the strange behavior of the people in line, and it would also explain why the three of us kept getting looks from people like we didn’t quite belong there. So we got out of there quickly, cataloging as much photographic and mental imagery of the area as we could on the way – while it may not have been a great place to hang out for the rest of the day, that didn’t mean that there wasn’t still a story here.
After a bit of searching, I soon found that we were right to expect a story – and thankfully, it’s one that reaches out to the people of Philadelphia who really need help. The clinic the man had been referring to is Thomas Jefferson University's Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Program. According to TJU’s website, the Rehabilitation Program is “an outpatient methadone treatment program for opiate dependent individuals located in South Philadelphia.” The program accepts all forms of payment and has a sliding scale fee dependant upon the individual patient’s income, thereby allowing help to be given to the people who really need it – not just those who can easily afford it
Additionally, they have special programs for patients with HIV/AIDS, seniors/older adults, women and “criminal justice clients,” as well as offering special language services in both Spanish and Portuguese.
You can find out more information about the program by calling Program Coordinator Sari Trachtenberg at 215.735.5979 or visiting the TJU Hospitals’ homepage, here.
(Images photographed/edited by Chrissy Reese.)