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Rise Together: Building a stronger & more equitable Rhode Island - The Raimondo Administration

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Raimondo, Care New England Announce New Center of Excellence to Combat Opioid Overdose Epidemic

Governor Raimondo and Care New England (CNE) along with CNE members Butler Hospital, The Providence Center, and Continuum Behavioral Health, today announced a new Center of Excellence for opioid addiction that will offer a longer treatment period and access to substance use disorder services. As part of a comprehensive, nationally-recognized action plan, Rhode Island established a Center of Excellence model to provide outpatient treatment for Rhode Islanders suffering from substance use disorder. Centers of Excellence are certified by the State and offer medically assisted treatment (MAT) and additional supportive services.

With the Center of Excellence designation, CNE received $242,224 grant monies in June. Through this funding, the launch of the program was accelerated and clinicians began seeing patients in October at its Providence and North Kingstown locations. The funding is administered by the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) and will primarily be used for salaries to staff the new program.

"The opioid overdose epidemic is the most urgent public health crisis of our time," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "We created the Center of Excellence model so that Rhode Islanders can get the help they need to recover from the disease of addiction. I am thankful to Care New England for their continued partnership and support of our mission of recovery. As we continue our work to save lives, I ask our leaders in Washington to put politics aside and devote resources, not rhetoric, to combating this epidemic."

Fighting Rhode Island's opioid overdose crisis is one of Governor Raimondo's top priorities. In August of 2015, she signed an Executive Order creating the Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. This July, she signed a follow-up Executive Order to implement Rhode Island's opioid crisis Action Plan and announced that CVS Health would be opening an Opioid Center of Excellence in Woonsocket. Since taking office, the Governor has worked with legislative leaders in the General Assembly to pass ambitious legislation aimed at preventing opioid overdoses, including a bill that increases the penalties for trafficking fentanyl.

"Expanding access to treatment is a central component of our nationally-recognized strategy to address the addiction and overdose crisis," said Eric Beane, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. "Butler Hospital is stepping up to meet the highest standard as a level-one Center of Excellence. Their commitment to providing outpatient treatment to any patient within 24 hours ensures that Rhode Islanders will have access to the help they need as they embark on the path to recovery."

The new treatment service is called the Recovery Stabilization Program and will be led by Butler Hospital's Chief Dr. Kevin Baill, unit chief of intensive inpatient adult treatment services; Continuum's Director of Operations Heather Lykas, LMHC; Medical Director Catherine DeGood, DO; and Clinical Director Gretchen Anderson, LICSW. Baill is also a member of Governor Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force.

"Centers of Excellence (COE) are the cornerstone of Governor Raimondo's Action Plan created by the Governor's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force," stated BHDDH Director Rebecca Boss. "COEs are integral to our success in fighting the opioid epidemic and we are pleased that Care New England has become a partner in this effort."

For 2016, the Rhode Island Department of Health reports there were 56 accidental deaths from prescription drugs, 216 from illicit drugs, and 66 involving both pharmaceutical and illegal drugs in the state. This is 46 more deaths from opioid overdose than reported for 2015. There are almost an equal number of deaths for those 25 to 34 years of age as there are for those 45 to 54 years of age, respectively, at 96 and 97 accidental overdoses for each age group. Also alarming is a nine-fold increase since 2009 in the number of deaths related to Fentanyl, a highly potent opioid. Since 2009, 1,534 Rhode Islanders have lost their lives to opioids.

James Fanale, MD, executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief clinical officer, Care New England Health System, said, "We are proud to offer this new program as part of Rhode Island's fight to stem and reverse the growing number of people suffering with addiction to opioids, and, through these efforts, to play a role in lowering the number of deaths from overdose."

At Butler Hospital, in the 12 months from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017, there were 1,549 discharges from inpatient addiction services of which 30.1 percent were for opioid use; 712 discharges from alcohol and drug addiction partial hospital (day) program with 25.8 percent related to opioid use treatment; and more than half (55.8 percent) of the 254 discharges from Butler's ambulatory detoxification clinic were being treated for opiate use. Likewise, Continuum saw between 350 and 400 individuals over 500 treatment episodes, with a significant percentage returning multiple times for care.

The outpatient Recovery Stabilization Program provides easy access to care and is offered at Butler and Continuum locations in Providence and North Kingstown. The specialized service is designed to provide six months or more of treatment. The recovery team may include an addiction specialty physician, registered nurse, licensed therapist, and case manager. The team manages the outpatient treatment and determines when someone requires more intensive services, such as inpatient, partial hospital, or ambulatory detoxification, because of early stages of recovery, relapse, or increased risk of relapse.

"Our team recognizes that recovery is not a straight path. Relapse is not uncommon, and we don't judge people when they stumble in recovery," added Dr. Baill. "Instead, we get them the right care they need at the right time, knowing that this is how treatment works and that recovery is possible."

Once patients are stabilized, long term treatment is transferred to a primary care provider (PCP) and a therapist to manage medications and continue counselling, respectively. The recovery stabilization team remains available for consults should there be a need to intervene or consider adjusting medications.

People are admitted to the program through a referral from their physician or therapist, an emergency department doctor, or when self-presenting to Butler Hospital's Patient Assessment Services in its Emergency Department. To start the process, individuals contact CNE's Call Center for Behavioral Health Services at 1 (844) 401-0111, which is available 24/7.