New treatment center opens to help combat opioid epidemic

November 9, 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A new treatment center opened in Rhode Island to help combat the opioid epidemic.

Gov. Gina Raimondo called the epidemic the most urgent public health crisis the state faces during an appearance at Butler Hospital in Providence on Thursday, during the center’s grand opening ceremony.

The hospital chain Care New England is offering medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through the new outpatient program. Patients are being seen at Butler and an outpatient facility in North Kingstown, Continuum Behavioral Health at Meadows Edge.

More than 1,500 Rhode Island residents have died due to opioids since 2009, according to the health department’s estimates. The Democratic Raimondo called the number of overdoses devastating.

“There are glimmers of hope,” Raimondo said. “Today is one step down the path toward victory in this battle. The opening of this facility, 24/7, collaborative care, wraparound care, top-notch care — that’s a huge step forward.”

It was launched using about $250,000 in federal funds Rhode Island received to combat substance abuse.

President Donald Trump recently declared opioid overdoses a national public health emergency. That allows the government to redirect resources and expand access to medical services in rural areas, but it won’t bring new dollars.

Raimondo said she wants more funding, not rhetoric, and “Washington needs to step up.” She also said any unwinding of the Affordable Care Act or cuts to Medicaid would harm efforts to combat the epidemic.

There are about 10 similar treatment centers in Rhode Island, said Eric Beane, secretary of the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services. He said the newest program is important because it expands access to medication-assisted treatment.

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