Fighting Opioid Addiction in California

logo_wall[1]As trusted providers on the frontlines, Community Health Centers are uniquely positioned to respond to complex and challenging public health issues, including the current national epidemic of opioid abuse. Every day in the U.S. over 40 people die from overdosing on prescription painkillers, and many more are becoming addicted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose and a driving factor cited by the CDC are prescription opioid pain relievers. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Now underway is a national initiative to address the problem at the community level. Community Health Centers are playing a critical role in treatment and prevention efforts. Last March, Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell announced $94 million funding to 271 health centers in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to improve and expand the delivery of substance abuse services in health centers, with a specific focus on treatment of opioid use disorders in underserved populations [press release].

“Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and integrating these services in health centers bolsters nationwide efforts to curb opioid misuse and abuse, supports approximately 124,000 new patients accessing substance use treatment for recovery and helps save lives,” said Secretary Burwell.

That’s where Petaluma Health Center (PHC) comes in. The health center which serves about 27,000 patients received a $325,000 grant from HHS that will go toward to boosting staff at their substance abuse program at the recently opened Rohnert Park Health Center site.

“Our opioid abuse problem is a community problem as well as a national problem,” said Pedro Toledo, Chief Administrative Officer of PHC. “We’re hopeful this funding can augment the work we are already doing in addiction prevention and treatment. Our program provides a broad and comprehensive approach to the problem of addiction and provides our patients with access to alternative methods of pain management like acupuncture and chiropractic.”

Petaluma Health Center has partnered with the County of Sonoma, Partnership Health Plan, and the Redwood Community Health Coalition to tackle the opioid epidemic in their region.

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