Hudson Headwaters Health Network has received an annual $325,000 grant from the federal Health and Human Services Administration (HHS) to expand treatment options for substance abuse and medication addiction.
"Addiction and abuse of opioids, including both heroin and prescription pain medications, is a serious and increasing public health problem," said John Rugge, MD and CEO. "Community health centers such as Hudson Headwaters have a role to play in addressing this issue."
Rugge said that the grant funds would help Hudson Headwaters improve collaboration with area substance abuse treatment programs, including long-term medication-assisted treatment, and bring educational resources to help health providers make informed prescribing decisions.
According to HHS, approximately 4.5 million people in the United States were non-medical users of prescription pain relievers in 2013, and almost 300,000 were current heroin users. HHS also estimates the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain medications has nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2013, and deaths related to heroin increased 39 percent between 2012 and 2013.
The award to Hudson Headwaters was part of $94 million in Affordable Care Act funding that is going to 271 health centers across the country. In making the announcement, HSS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said "The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States today. 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."
Behavioral Health is Part of Primary Care
Research demonstrates that a whole-patient approach to treatment through a combination of medication, counseling, and behavioral therapies is most successful in treating opioid use disorders. In 2014, over 1.3 million people received behavioral health services at community health centers. This represents a 75 percent increase since 2008.
"Hudson Headwaters recognized the importance of mental health to overall health more than 15 years ago," said David Alloy, PhD, Director of Behavioral Health Services, "and we have worked to develop a capacity to support Network patients with mental health care." Alloy said that Hudson Headwaters' behavioral health staff includes licensed social workers, psychologists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Hudson Headwaters does not currently provide direct substance abuse services.
Hudson Headwaters is a not-for-profit, community-based network of 17 health centers serving the Adirondack North Country and Glens Falls Region since 1981. Its services include comprehensive primary care, obstetrics and gynecology, behavioral health, dentistry, lab, imaging and more.