New Model for Opioid Dependence Treatment in Newfoundland and Labrador
Opioid Action Plan
Drug use, overdose and death are happening in our communities. It is an issue that has brought together government, municipal leaders, community partners and health care providers to find effective ways to address it. According to the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information, in 2016, there were 18 apparent opioid-related deaths in our province. This rate increased to 33 deaths in 2017. Hospital admissions involving opioids also increased from 2016 to 2017 from 20 to 84.
The Provincial Government outlined Newfoundland and Labrador’s Opioid Action Plan at the national Opioid Conference and Summit in Ottawa in November 2016. Since then, the government has taken a number of actions to address the opioid crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador both through legislation, funding, and in partnership with stakeholders and grassroots community organizations:
- Safe prescribing course for health care professionals;
- Province-wide Naloxone take-home kit program;
- Naloxone community pop-up tents;
- Improved access to Suboxone as an alternative drug to methadone;
- Pharmacy Network; and,
- Introduction and passage of prescription monitoring program legislation.
The New Model for Opioid Dependence Treatment in Newfoundland and Labrador builds on the successful partnerships and initiatives in the Opioid Action Plan, specifically improving access to Suboxone.
Expanding treatment to rural areas
Four regional-based teams will be established to provide consultation and support to family physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and case managers who work directly with people in their communities who have opioid dependence.
A team will be located in each of the regional health authorities – Eastern Health, Central Health, Western Health, and Labrador-Grenfell Health. Teams will provide rapid access to medication-assisted treatments, such as Suboxone.
To ensure people receive this medication when they need it, telehealth will be available so transportation does not become a barrier to treatment.
The centers will provide care as the person becomes stabilized on their medication and will then ensure ongoing care is provided within each region. If needed, people will have access to a case manager to support them in their recovery.
This new model will help people access recovery supports and community services throughout the province, but will particularly increase access in rural areas. This model will support patients close to home to receive the care and treatment they need to begin recovery.
This team-based regional model was established by the Opioid Dependence Treatment Working Group as a part of Towards Recovery: The Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador. The Working Group is comprised of community organizations, persons with lived experience, regional health authorities, health care providers (including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and mental health and addictions staff) and their regulatory bodies and professional associations.
Provincial Centre of Excellence
A Provincial Opioid Dependence Treatment Centre of Excellence for Opioid Dependence Treatment will be established in St. John’s. It will be responsible for ensuring health care providers and community organizations have access to up to date information and research so they can provide the best possible care to people throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
This agreement will result in the investment of more than $4 million—$1.6 million from the Government of Canada and $2.7 million from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2018-19 —to improve access to opioid dependency treatment in the province using multi-disciplinary teams, case managers, primary care providers and telemedicine.
With this investment, the governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador hope to help close the significant gap in treatment services for people who are seeking help for substance use disorders.
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