Benefis expands access to opioid abuse treatment

Posted at 2:54 PM, Feb 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-06 18:20:20-05

Benefis Health System is expanding its care for patients struggling with opioid abuse thanks to a large federal grant.

The grant aims to increase access to medication-assisted treatment and support.

Funds have been dedicated to a specialized medication assisted treatment (MAT) clinic led by Dr. Deborah Rose, one of the only board-certified addiction specialists in the state.

“Addiction is a chronic disease, not a moral failing,” she said, “and the cure rates for opioid use disorders without the use of medication are very poor.”

The clinic combines FDA-approved drugs with counseling, behavioral therapies and recovery support.

Specialists help people connect with the individual resources they need and they can also help uninsured patients navigate the process.

The clinic, located in suite #2 at 1300 28th Street South, is new but patient numbers are already going up.

“We are seeing several each week and that is increasing as each week goes by,” said Cherry Loney, Benefis Health System Director of Grants Development and Administration. “To sort of put it in perspective, opioid use disorder is the third leading cause of injury-related deaths in the state of Montana.”

If you or someone you know is in need of an appointment, call (406) 455-2280.

The MAT program is also expanding access by establishing a smaller clinic in Shelby and are working toward finalizing a site with Native American orientation.

Dr. Rose provides oversight and guidance to providers at these smaller sites, where patients can receive ongoing treatment without having to travel to Great Falls.

Providers are required to obtain a particular government waiver to prescribe MAT. With a shortage of these waivered providers in Great Falls and the region, Dr. Rose and her colleagues are working to educate other providers about the benefits of MAT to increase the number of waivered providers in the area.

There is a limit to how many patients each provider can serve, so the more providers that obtain waivers, the more people can be helped.

Eligibility for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant was limited to the 35 states with the most prevalent heroin and opioid problems, and Montana was one of them.

The other organizations to receive grant funding in Montana were all Native American based. They include Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Rocky Boy Health Board, and Bighorn Valley Health Center.

Reporting by Joe Huisinga for MTN News