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Lugar Center Expands Referrals for Substance Abuse Treatment with Telehealth

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

announced it has awarded over $3.2 million to health centers to help fight the Opioid Epidemic. The funding coincides with the Department of Health & Human Services’ five-point strategy to fight the opioid epidemic which is:

  • Improving access to treatment and recovery services

  • Targeting use of overdose-reversing drugs

  • Strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance

  • Providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction

  • Advancing better practices for pain management

The Lugar Center, Union Hospital, and the Wabash Valley Rural Telehealth Network (WVRTN) are continuing its nationally recognized leadership in the field of telehealth through the Substance Abuse Treatment Telehealth Network Grant Program (SAT-TNGP). The program partners will extend screening and referral of patients who present with high likelihood of drug or alcohol abuse via Telehealth technology. Systematic referral will also occur for all patients receiving Narcan by first responders or at the hospitals. The network is comprised of fourteen sites: Union Hospital (hub site); four Critical Access Hospitals, Union Hospital Clinton, Putnam County Hospital, Sullivan County Community Hospital, Greene County General Hospital; a federally-qualified health center, Valley Professionals Community Health Center, with three clinics: and Hamilton Center Community Mental Health Center, with four clinics.

Patients will be referred to the various Valley Professionals Community Health Center and Hamilton Center sites dependent upon geography for future diagnosis and treatment. Substance abuse treatment options to be provided include prevention (screening, evaluation, identification of risk factors and readiness to change, identification of non-pharmacological alternatives to opioids); care (treatment, and referral to addiction specialists, safe prescribing practices, one-on-one counseling, and group therapy); and treatment (medication assisted treatments). Lastly, the program will track these individuals from the emergency department through treatment and collect critical data to inform future health policy and reimbursement decisions.

The funding sets up two separate programs that help address access to treatment and recovery services, the Rural Health Opioid Program (RHOP) and the SAT-TNGP. 10 Recipients were awarded grant funds under the RHOP. Three recipients received funds under the SAT-TNGP, those recipients are:

  • Avera Health

  • Westbrook Health Services, Inc.

  • Union Hospital, Inc.

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