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Meaghan Lyver
/ Categories: CHC News Releases

New Program Helping Providers Treat Opioid-Addicted Patients Now Available to California Health Centers

Weitzman Institute Launches California Project ECHO Addiction Treatment Program

MIDDLETOWN, Conn., November 28, 2016: With deadly overdoses occurring across California, the California Health Care Foundation and the Center for Care Innovations have partnered with the Weitzman Institute to develop a Project ECHO Buprenorphine program specifically for California primary care organizations. Already more than a dozen health centers statewide have joined to improve and expand their ability to treat patients suffering from opioid addiction.

Weitzman’s ECHO Buprenorphine is the only such program designed and developed by primary care providers for primary care providers. Healthcare providers throughout California will benefit from real-time case discussions with primary care practitioners actively treating substance abuse and addiction and from their firm understanding of the realities and challenges faced by front-line providers.

“Weitzman ECHO is the only ECHO program developed by primary care providers for primary care staff, and, for this reason, it is uniquely and ideally suited to address the needs of front-line primary care staff,” said Daren Anderson, MD, director of the Weitzman Institute and CHC’s vice president and chief quality officer. “Weitzman ECHO lectures and discussions are led by active, practicing providers who speak from experience and fully understand the challenges faced by front-line providers. This fact has led Weitzman ECHO to grow into one of the largest ECHO providers in the country, delivering sessions to more than 880 providers and care team members in 24 states nationwide,” said Anderson.

Buprenorphine is one of the most effective, evidence-based interventions for treating opioid abuse and reducing overdose, but few primary care providers have experience with the therapy or understand how to incorporate it into their practice. The Weitzman ECHO creates virtual classrooms for primary care providers and members of their practice teams to improve their skills and gain confidence in treating patients’ substance use disorders. Providers who have participated in Weitzman ECHO clinics routinely report high satisfaction and greater confidence in their ability to treat patients.

The Weitzman ECHO is made available to California health centers by the California Health Care Foundation and the Center for Care Innovations. “Project ECHO is a great tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” said Kelly Pfeifer, MD, a director at the California Health Care Foundation.  “Only one in 10 Californians has access to addiction treatment, and the need is urgent. We are proud to partner with the Weitzman Institute to allow more people to find treatment that works, with the primary care provider they trust.”

In 2016, the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) granted Substance Abuse Service Expansion Awards to 36 California health centers to provide medication assisted treatment for patients suffering opioid use disorders.  However, most California awardees reported little or no experience providing addiction treatment and said they needed technical assistance. In response to the request for support, the California Health Care Foundation and the Centers for Care Innovations established the Treating Addiction in the Primary Care Safety Net program, which offered Weitzman ECHO Buprenorphine, along with other technical assistance programs. To date, 14 health centers have agreed to participate in ECHO Buprenorphine. Additional health centers throughout California are expected to participate in the future.

“We welcome participation by providers in California health centers in Weitzman ECHO Buprenorphine,” said Mark Masselli, president and CEO of CHC. “The effective use of technology and quality improvement science makes Project ECHO a critical tool for primary care providers combatting opioid abuse in California.”

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About Community Health Center, Inc.
Since 1972, Community Health Center, Inc. has been one of the leading healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut, building a world-class primary healthcare system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. CHC is focused on improving health outcomes for its more than 145,000 patients as well as building healthy communities. Recognized as both a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission, CHC delivers service in more than 200 locations statewide, offering primary care in medical, dental and behavioral health services. For more information, visit www.chc1.com.

About The Weitzman Institute
The Weitzman Institute is the research and innovation arm of Community Health Center, Inc., dedicated to inspiring primary care innovation and improving health outcomes for the medically underserved.  With its expertise in quality improvement, the Weitzman Institute is partnering with organizations around the globe to transform the primary care delivery system through research, training and education.  For more information, visit www.weitzmaninstitute.org.

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