California Turns to Vermont for Solution to Opioid Problem

Record Searchlight

By Jenny Espino

Taking a page from Vermont, California is using a new health approach to stem the opioid problem, which has hit small communities and rural counties especially hard.

The state is putting a federal grant of $89.5 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) toward opening medication-assisted treatment to more Medicaid recipients, who struggle with the addiction.

Public health officials are targeting about 21,000 new people over two years. As part of the strategy, California is building a “hub and spoke” system to manage services and recruit more doctors who can prescribe the medications.

Here in the North State, Redding’s methadone clinic is now a regional hub with spokes in Weaverville, Mount Shasta, Yreka and Del Norte County. Patients will be able to move between the hub and spoke based on the severity of their addiction.

Local officials and Aegis Treatment Center, which operates the clinic, already are in talks about the prospect of adding Burney as a spoke. It would need at least one prescriber and a medication-assisted treatment team to fast-track patients into treatment and counseling.

“It’s a process of getting out there,” said Judson Lea, Aegis northern regional clinic manager.

Separately, Aegis also is preparing to convert the Redding clinic into a full facility with on-site counseling services. Beginning in July, that will save people from driving once a week to Chico.

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