Buffalo, NY – Neighborhood Health Center will be expanding its opioid-use disorder treatment options through an innovative partnership and collaboration between BestSelf Behavioral Health and Evergreen Health, thanks to a $350,000 two-year grant from the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Neighborhood Health Center’s continued collaboration in year two with BestSelf Behavioral Health and Evergreen Health aims to expand access of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to individuals receiving primary care at the Health Center via telehealth/telemedicine. This innovation and partnership ultimately seeks to increase dependence treatment services and access to addiction medications within the most vulnerable populations in Western New York.
Neighborhood Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), provides primary and integrated care services to more than 26,000 unique patients practice-wide, including Internal Medicine/Family Medicine (IM/FM), Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB-GYN), Pediatrics, Dentistry, Pharmacy Services, Behavioral Health, Nutritional Care and Podiatry.
As the designated FQHC, Neighborhood Health Center has entered into this collaboration with the intent to expand its ability to deliver a continuum of care that not only includes MAT medical services, but adds behavioral health into this specific treatment for an approach that addresses body, mind and circumstance.
“Adding a counseling component to medication-assisted treatment only made sense as we think about sustainability and longevity in combating substance use disorders for many patients,” said Joanne Haefner, Chief Executive Officer for Neighborhood Health Center. “Because addiction has many potential causes and impacts, an integrated approach to treatment is likely to be more effective.”
This collaboration will allow Neighborhood Health Center, BestSelf Behavioral Health and Evergreen Health to provide increased access to FDA-approved medications, in combination with a varying level of counseling and behavioral therapies to offer a “whole-patient” approach, crucial to the treatment of substance use disorders.
“Expanding telepractice services to increase access to medication assisted treatment is a core component of the work that OASAS and Governor Cuomo are doing to address the opioid epidemic in New York State,” said New York State OASAS Commissioner, Arlene González-Sánchez. “Our efforts have led to substantial advancements in addressing addiction, including the first drop in overdose deaths in New York State in a decade. With this funding, we will be able to better reach more New Yorkers in need with this critical help and continue our progress.”
As key partnering agencies, BestSelf Behavioral Health’s role in the project will support management of patients cared for through the program, whereas the partnership with Evergreen Health will allow for a warm handoff of medically stable patients into the program, affording additional capacity for those waiting for treatment.
In 2017, Erie County reported 246 confirmed opioid overdose fatalities and maintained the second highest opioid overdose fatality rate in New York State. Additionally, 55 percent of those opioid overdose fatalities occurred within the 20-39 year age range.
With an aim to provide the best care for some of the most vulnerable in Western New York, Neighborhood Health Center strives to be a community resource and conduit to a healthier region.
“We hope that our innovative partnership with BestSelf and Evergreen sets the pinnacle of care for substance use disorders in (not only) the region, but the state,” added Joanne.