Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan pledges $2.6 million to fight opioid epidemic

Sherri Welch, Published December 12, 2018 09:00 AM

A statewide collaboration launched early this year to stem the opioid addiction epidemic in Michigan has expanded and stepped up its support with $2.6 million in new commitments.

With the latest round of funding, the Michigan Opioid Partnership will focus on piloting medication-assisted treatment (MAT) through hospitals paired with behavioral therapy provided by community clinics to the highest-need areas of the state, including Southeast Michigan.

“There’s huge urgency on this,” said Katie Brisson, vice president, program, at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, a member of the partnership.

Katie Brisson, vice president, programs, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

“When we stepped back to say, ‘Where can this partnership make the most difference right now?’ … this culture change in emergency room (rose to the top) based on proven success in other communities.”

Typically, after an overdose crisis has been averted at local emergency rooms, people addicted to opioids are given a prescription for anti-addiction medication and a referral for therapy before being sent on their way, Brisson said. But the drugs used to treat addiction are often difficult to access.

With MAT — a holistic treatment approach that has shown success in places like Massachusetts and California — patients start the medication before leaving the emergency room and immediately are connected to a community-based treatment clinic for behavioral therapy. This “warm hand-off” could include them being taken to the places they’ll get therapy “to make sure that relationship is built and that it’s the beginning of the process, not the end,” Brisson said.

Other founding members of the statewide partnership include: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the Superior Health Foundation.

Recently, three new organizations joined the group: the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation and The Jewish Fund.

The new grants, which build on $570,400 in grants made by the partnership early this year to fund preventative efforts, will fund MAT pilots in high-need communities around the state, based on recommendations from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local hospitals and community providers interested in teaming up to implement the MAT approach, Brisson said.

Southeast Michigan is among the areas of the state with the highest need for opioid addiction treatment, with 286 opioid-related deaths in Macomb County last year and 576 in Wayne County, according to state data.

Sarah Wedepohl, senior program officer at Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

Other areas of the state with high incidences of opioid addiction and related deaths include western Michigan, the northeastern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula, said Sarah Wedepohl, senior program officer at the Community Foundation.

The collaborative will invite hospitals and community providers from those areas to apply for funding for planning, training and implementing the MAT approach. It will vote on grantees as a group and tap experts to help evaluate the efficacy of the approach in Michigan over two years or more, as well as the relationships built between hospitals and community-based treatment providers, Brisson said.

Recipients will be announced in early 2019.

The grants will be made to hospitals paired with community providers “to help change the culture of treatment of people coming through their doors,” Brisson said.

Last year, drug overdoses killed nearly 2,729 people in Michigan, with 1,941 of those deaths attributed to opioids, according to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

“Opioid deaths are growing at an alarming rate,” said Larry Scott, director, Office of Recovery Oriented System of Care at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in a release.

“The partnership was formed to address the growing opioid epidemic by supporting innovative projects that create change.”

With MAT, follow-up is critical, Brisson said. “It’s not just about helping them that day they came to the ER. It’s: ‘Are they continuing to go to behavioral therapy … (and) staying on medicines that can assist them?’ It’s about supporting them through this process.”

This article was written for Crain’s Detroit Business and was originally posted here. For more information about how Marx Layne & Company can elevate your brand, please visit our expertise page here.


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