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August 13, 2018
Harrington Receives $486,000 to Support Substance Use Treatment

SOUTHBRIDGE, MA, July 23, 2018 – Harrington is the recipient of a grant totaling nearly a half a million dollars, awarded by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC), part of the HPC’s highly competitive $10 million SHIFT-Care Challenge.

The SHIFT-Care Challenge is a grant opportunity aimed at reducing avoidable acute care utilization and move toward a more patient-centered, community-based setting. In total, 15 grants were awarded for innovative investments across the Commonwealth.

“By focusing on social and behavioral health needs in our communities, these innovative projects will enable these patients to receive more holistic person, family and community-centered care,” said David Seltz, HPC executive director.

Harrington’s award is centered on improving access to treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) and creating new models of services to support their ongoing recovery.

“Our initiative is focused on the enhancement of recovery services in Harrington’s Emergency Departments (ED) to address identified patients with critical needs, and the creation of community supports to engage and link to a new model of treatment,” said Greg Mirhej, vice president of behavioral health services.

One of the most poignant pieces of the grant, Harrington’s emergency physician staff will be trained to offer suboxone in the ED, so a patient who is admitted for an overdose will be able to be given treatment immediately. Suboxone is a medication prescribed for recovery from opiate and opioid addiction. It is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, each of which contributes to relapse prevention.

Recent research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed patients who began suboxone in the ED had better than a 50 percent chance of staying in treatment than those who did not1. Medication-assisted treatments have proven to meet the highest standard of clinical evidence for safety and efficacy across documented organizational studies including the US General Surgeon, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The SHIFT grant will also fund the integration of a recovery specialist into the Southbridge Police Department to further identify those individuals in need of these services.

Harrington has identified 3,000 patients who may benefit from this enhanced access to care through its Emergency Departments and inpatient census as well as police/EMS contacts with opiate withdrawal, dependence, or overdose. The healthcare system already has one of the most impressive behavioral health continuum of care in the Commonwealth, including on-site program clinicians to identify at-risk populations, psychiatric emergency services, intensive outpatient and step-down programs, and a 16-bed co-occurring disorders inpatient unit in Webster.

The HealthCare System has set two goals for its program: to reduce (Southbridge and Webster) Emergency Department visits by 20 percent for patients diagnosed with opioid dependency, and to connect 80 percent of all OUD-identified patients in the Emergency Department with program services, with a 30 percent reduction in opioid use during the first six months of treatment.

The SHIFT grant is based on a 21-month period of performance. Harrington is set to begin its program on October 1.

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28194688