One Community Health Wins HRSA Grant Addresses the Epidemic of Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction and Overdose
New ‘Substance Abuse Service Expansion Supplement Award’ provides for new staff, programs, and services, combating addiction through a more effective, integrated approach.
HOOD RIVER, Ore., April 3, 2016 — Thanks to a new grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)*, One Community Health (OCH) is rolling out a groundbreaking new approach to how it will combat prescription opioid and heroin use disorders and overdose in our community.
The grant for $222,832 was awarded in February 2016 and went into effect this past March. With the funding, OCH is transforming how it prescribes opioid medications and also how it supports and treats patients who struggle with opiate use problems.
“The United States is facing a serious public health problem when it comes to use and overdose deaths related to both prescription opioids and heroin,” says Lucas O’Laughlin, LCSW, the newly hired Behavioral Health Manager at One Community Health, a nonprofit, federally qualified health center with locations in Hood River and The Dalles. “Over the past two decades, there has been a fairly consistent rise in overall medical prescribing rates and corresponding abuse of prescription opioids, with a sharp spike in overdose deaths within the past five years.”
According to the Oregon Health Authority, over 900,000 Oregonians (24 percent) received a prescription for an opioid in 2012. Every week, an average of three Oregonians die from prescription opioid overdose. In 2013, there were more overdose deaths from prescription opioids than from any other substance including alcohol, heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine.
“We at One Community Health are working to address this epidemic with some innovative solutions,” O’Laughlin says. “Specifically, we are taking special consideration to the interconnected nature of the physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing of the people we serve.”
Among a number of things, OCH is taking action around:
- Increasing screening and referrals for all substance use disorders
- Specialized data tracking for program quality improvement
- Improving opioid prescribing practices to mitigate risk factors related to opioid use disorders and overdose deaths
- Expanding medication assisted treatment (MAT) services, utilizing Buprenorphine and Naloxone medications (e.g., Suboxone), which can be a critical factor in recovery from opiate use disorders
- Implementing an integrated biopsychosocial approach to comprehensive treatment services
To get the ball rolling, OCH is following an integrated model of health care delivery, treating the physical, mental, and emotional needs that people with struggling substance abuse commonly face. New services and programs will also play a key role in providing patient care.
For example, screening for systemic illnesses, such as HIV and Hepatitis C, will be possible through the support of this sizeable grant. In addition, OCH is hiring new staff, including one specialty MAT nurse case manager and two Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors CADC. They will work with OCH medical providers and integrated care teams to effectively collaborate and manage the changes in policy and treatment, ensuring patients get the best support, education, resources, and care possible.
“This grant award is very significant for our community, particularly considering what it means for patients struggling with any kind of opiate use,” O’Laughlin says. “This service expansion will allow for a collaborative approach to substance use treatment that combines biomedical and behavioral health in a seamless system within the primary care setting, so patients only have to come to one location to receive comprehensive services. It addresses many of the barriers related to stigma, access, and collaboration that have previously existed in the health care field. For example, medical and mental health care have traditionally operated in separate ‘silos,’ each with their own unique professional cultures, underlying philosophies, and methods of care delivery. Now, we are supporting our patients in a totally different way, integrating care by creating teams of medical providers and other mental health and substance use experts who will work side-by-side with patients, guiding them through their journey, and hopefully, a successful recovery.”
In many ways, this grant will raise the quality of the patient experience and advance OCH’s mission to provide health and social justice of all community members. That said, Mid-Columbia Center for Living (MCCFL) currently has an excellent addictions program and has been a key OCH partner for years. While continuing to partner with MCCFL, this new grant allows OCH to increase service capacity to meet more of the community’s addictions needs.
About One Community Health
One Community Health (OCH) is a nonprofit, federally qualified health center with clinics in The Dalles and Hood River, Ore. Formerly known as La Clínica del Cariño Family Health Care Center, Inc., it was founded in 1986 and, today, has evolved into an official Patient-Centered Primary Care Home. Today, OCH provides services to over 10,000 patients. In addition, OCH excels in providing proactive educational programs and support that sustain its integrated approach to health and wellbeing. Dedicated to advancing health and social justice for all its community members, OCH serves patients from the Mid-Columbia River Gorge Region: Wasco, Hood River, Klickitat and Skamania Counties. For more information, click here or visit: http://www.onecommunityhealth.org/.
*This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
One Community Health