Beacon Health Options awards $128,800 in grants to address opioid crisis in Boston and Lowell

Funding will be used to benefit community-based behavioral health organizations

Boston – September 4, 2019 – According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in the first six months of 2019 alone, there were 611 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths in the Commonwealth – more than three per day.

To help address this ongoing crisis, Beacon Health Options (Beacon), a leading behavioral health services company headquartered in Boston, announced today it will be distributing $128,800 in grants to four community-based behavioral health organizations. Grant funding will help the awardees increase their clients’ connectivity to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), an evidence-based approach to treating opioid use disorder (OUD).

The four grantees – Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Bournewood Health Systems, Lowell House, and North Suffolk Mental Health – were selected after a competitive process that sought to fund programs that help improve pathways to, and engagement in, MAT. “While strides have been made in our collective struggle to stem the tide of opioid-related overdoses in Massachusetts, there is more work to be done,” said Susan Coakley, President of Beacon’s Northeast Region. “We know that medication-assisted treatment works to treat opioid use disorder, and we also know that many clients experience barriers to accessing it. Our goal with this grant program is to help providers improve services and create sustainable ways to connect clients to MAT – linking them to life-saving treatment.”

The awarded projects are diverse in nature and include:

  • Implementing tele-behavioral health on a mobile addiction clinic (Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program)
  • Developing an outpatient MAT program, including the use of smart phone technology (Bournewood Health Systems)
  • Utilizing Uber Health to mitigate transportation barriers to accessing MAT (Lowell House)
  • Adopting innovative software technology to increase engagement and ongoing adherence rates to MAT treatment plans (North Suffolk Mental Health)

Funding is in place for one year, with the potential to continue for a second year depending on program outcomes.

“We are thrilled to partner with these four outstanding organizations,” said Briana Duffy, Beacon’s Northeast Region Chief Partnership Officer. “Expanding access to MAT is a high priority for Beacon, and we look forward to working with our provider partners to help our members get the services they need to treat their opioid use disorder and move forward in their lives.”

About Beacon Health Options

Beacon Health Options is a leading behavioral health services company that serves 40 million individuals across all 50 states. We work with employers, health plans and government agencies to provide robust mental health and addiction services through innovative programs and solutions that improve the health and wellness of people every day. Beacon is a national leader in the fields of mental and emotional wellbeing, addiction, recovery, and employee health. Collaborating with a network of providers in communities around the country, we help individuals live their lives to the fullest potential. For more information, visit www.beaconhealthoptions.comand connect with us on www.facebook.com/beaconhealthoptions, www.twitter.com/beaconhealthopt and www.linkedin.com/company/beacon-health-options.

###

Beacon Health Options Opioid Use Disorder Grant Program
Grantee Summary

BHCHP Logo

Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program

Since 1985, the mission of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) has been to provide or assure access to the highest quality health care for all homeless individuals and families in the greater Boston area. The negative health impacts of homelessness are profound: individuals who are homeless and unstably housed have rates of drug overdose death that are 20 times higher than those in the general population. The support of Beacon Health Options is allowing BHCHP to undertake a new intervention that will increase pathways to integrated medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and behavioral health services for exceptionally vulnerable people: those who are experiencing the health threats of homelessness and a heightened risk of overdose. This innovative project will enhance the harm reduction and MOUD services that are currently provided on the Kraft Center for Community Health’s CareZONE mobile clinic, on which BHCHP is the medical provider, by introducing new cognitive behavioral therapy using telehealth modalities and bringing integrated services to homeless individuals who would otherwise struggle to access treatment services. The grant from Beacon will support the cost of technology and training to integrate the remote services of a licensed clinical social worker to the medical and harm reduction services provided by the CareZONE team to target opioid overdose “hotspots” in greater Boston.

Bournewood Health Systems Logo

Bournewood Health Systems

Bournewood Health Systems (BHS) has continuously provided behavioral health treatment since 1884 to persons with severe mental health conditions, adolescents with severe emotional disturbances, and persons with co-occurring mental health and substance use conditions. With grant funding from Beacon, BHS will develop an outpatient medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program to complement its current ambulatory dual diagnosis partial hospitalization program (PHP). The BHS MAT program will consist of several afternoon clinic sessions, during which time patients will have individual medication management visits with a board certified addiction psychiatrist. These services will help patients seamlessly transition from MAT during their partial hospitalization program into ongoing access through the new clinic. The clinic will initially serve as a bridge clinic for patients being discharged from the inpatient or PHP programs at BHS or surrounding facilities, and will be expanded to include access for individuals in nearby communities. BHS will also incorporate the use of the Hazelden Betty Ford COR-12™ Model and offer patients the COR-12™ smartphone app, which will promote strong MAT adherence rates and provide enhanced patient education around MAT benefits and risks.

LHATR Logo

Lowell House, Inc.

Lowell House, Inc. empowers people and their families to rebuild their lives and strengthen their communities by providing the skills and freedom to live a sober and dignified life. Lowell House services include an outpatient clinic, recovery coaching, supportive case management, a structured outpatient addiction Program (SOAP), residential recovery homes, sober homes, driver alcohol education programs, and an ever-expanding list of community services for those at risk for substance use disorder, or who are struggling with addiction at any level in their lives. Funding from Beacon will be utilized to support Lowell House’s use of Uber Health transportation services to ensure full access to MAT for its clients. According to the American Hospital Association, transportation barriers are a leading cause for missed medical appointments throughout the country – a phenomenon that Lowell House sees every day with its clients who struggle to access needed care. It is anticipated that the use of Uber Health at Lowell House will ensure that no client in its residential or day programs will have to miss an MAT-related appointment – whether it be for intake, ongoing dosing, or follow-up. Increased and streamlined access to MAT through transportation assistance will result in higher adherence rates and improved outcomes.

NSMHA Logo

North Suffolk Mental Health North Suffolk Mental Health Association, Inc. (NSMHA) has been providing community-based mental health services to individuals and families in the Boston North Suffolk area for over sixty years. NSMHA has developed an integrated system of treatment, rehabilitation, and support programs to promote the recovery of people of all ages living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. Addressing the opioid epidemic is a strategic priority for NSMHA as it transitions towards a value-based care system. Funding from Beacon will go toward supporting the adoption of the Opioid Addiction Recovery Support (OARS) solution into NSMHA’s MAT program. OARS is an innovative patient-centered software technology aiming at increasing access and ongoing engagement to MAT, while facilitating care coordination between the patient and the healthcare team.