Timely Grants Assist with Opioid Crisis

Dr. Jeff DeVido, holding an intranasal narcan device that can reverse the effects of a drug overdose, is among the Marin County Health and Human Services employees coordinating efforts with local partners to address the opioid crisis.

Sierra Health Foundation awards funding to several Marin agencies

More than 2,000 people die from opioid-related deaths in California each year, and Marin County is not immune. It has averaged 215 drug-overdose fatalities over the past seven years, many opioid-related, ac­cording to the Marin County Department of Health and Hu­man Services (HHS).

But there is good news: More resources are on the way for local collaborative efforts. Several Marin agencies have received timely support in the form of state grants to achieve two goals: 1) help support ex­pansion of local activities to improve access to life-saving medications and treatment, and 2) to improve education about substance use disorders.

On June 20, the Center at Sierra Health Foundation an­nounced more than $16.4 million awarded to 120 or­ganizations at more than 270 sites/access points throughout California. The funds will go through the Medication Assist­ed Treatment (MAT) Access Points Project to ensure that the delivery of MAT facilitates positive treatment outcomes, safe management of care tran­sitions and long-term recov­ery for people with opioid and other substance use disorders.

Four Marin County orga­nizations were granted nearly $500,000 through the MAT Access Points Project. Marin HHS’ Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Division was awarded $184,000 for pro­gram development and to help fund a recovery coach position to facilitate care coordination between acute care mental health locations. Marin Gener­al Hospital received $100,000 to help fund educational ef­forts and support addiction program development, and Marin Treatment Center will use its $100,000 grant to as­sist justice-involved individu­als with opioid use disorder and expand treatment options for individuals with Medicare. Finally, Center Point, Inc., received $100,000 to expand access to MAT through their programming by engaging ad­ditional medical providers.

“These grants are such a wonderful opportunity for us to expand our treatment op­tions and to help align our goals and efforts with those of our local healthcare partners,” said Marc Hering, Executive Vice President of Centerpoint. “It’s a welcome shift to see addiction treatment become more of a central health care priority.”

In addition to the MAT Ac­cess Points Projects grants, Marin HHS has received a sim­ilar $135,000 MAT expansion grant to increase the availabil­ity of medications for addiction treatment in criminal justice settings. That grant facilitated the collaboration of custody health, adult drug court, Marin County public health and be­havioral health, Marin City Health and Wellness, and Bay Area Community Resources.

Marin HHS, the RxSafe Marin coalition, and various local stakeholders such as the Spahr Center and the Marin County Jail also have been the recipients of additional grant awards to reduce opioid abuse in recent years. The grants have led to the distribution of hundreds of narcan opioid overdose reversal kits through community trainings, local treatment providers, libraries, police, and directly to jail in­mates.

“All these grants fit into our larger goal of addressing the opioid epidemic locally through collective efforts that expand access to treatment, especially MAT,” said Dr. Jeff DeVido of Marin HHS, who contributed to the grant appli­cations for several of the local grant recipients. “Expanding access to treatment is one of our priority goals of HHS and RxSafe Marin, our local opi­oid coalition.”

DeVido said the other prior­ity goals are decreasing opioid supply through education about safe prescribing and good med­ication stewardship as well as expansion of safe disposal op­tions and decreasing the risk of overdose through expansion of the availability of narcan, the opioid overdose reverse medi­cation.

“It’s just really exciting to see the various local organiza­tions work together and coor­dinate our efforts to meet the local need,” said Rebecca Max­well, Behavioral Health Direc­tor at Marin General Hospital.

Brian Slattery, CEO of Marin Treatment Center, added: “Ad­diction is a treatable illness, and people with addiction and the treatment itself have too long been marginalized. These grants help to facilitate our ef­forts to bring individuals with addiction and addiction treat­ment in from the margins of health care.”

Through an innovative partnership between HHS Emergency Medical Services, Marin County Public Health, and Marin County Behav­ioral Health, those who have suffered a nonfatal overdose now receive targeted outreach from addiction specialists in the hopes of facilitating bet­ter connections between those individuals and treatment pro­viders.

Learn more about the MAT Access Points Project at ma­taccesspoints.org.



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