Northern Inyo Hospital is among 31 health facilities selected from across the state to participate in the California Bridge Program, an accelerated training program for healthcare providers facilitated by the Public Health Institute’s Bridge program to enhance access to around-the-clock treatment for substance use disorders. Program sites will receive funding, training, and technical assistance to improve and access to facility-wide treatment and referral of acute symptoms of substance use disorders. The Bridge program is funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant to the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).
“For the first time, patients seeking treatment for Opioid Use Disorder will not have to wait days or even weeks to start treatment,” said Kevin S. Flanigan, MD MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Inyo Healthcare District. “When seeking care at NIHD, they will have access to care when they first decide it is
time for them to address the issue.”
A referral to an addiction treatment program has been the most that hospitals have generally been able to provide for patients identified as needing treatment for opioid use disorder. The Bridge model treats emergency rooms and acute care hospitals as a critical window for initiating treatment. When patients in opioid withdrawal come seeking medical care, including for reasons not related to opioid use, they will be offered a dose of medication such as buprenorphine to ease severe symptoms of withdrawal, and then they will be connected with outpatient treatment in the community. Studies have shown that patients given this option of medication designed for addiction treatment are more likely to remain in care than those who are given referral information alone.
“By suppressing withdrawal long enough to create a bridge for patients to enter and remain in treatment, physicians can save lives,” said Andrew Herring, MD, Director of Emergency Department Services for the Bridge program. “We know this model works, and now we are bringing it to hospitals and emergency rooms all across the state that are anxious for real solutions to address the enormous pain and suffering they see every day caused by the opioid epidemic.”
Inyo County has already had one apparent overdose death this year.
The 18-month California Bridge training program, with funding from the California Department of Health Care Services and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), aims to ensure that any interaction a patient has with the healthcare system can be a potential opportunity to enter into treatment. It approaches substance use disorder as a treatable chronic illness—creating an environment that welcomes disclosure of opioid use, provides rapid evidence-based treatment, and enables patients to enter and remain in treatment.
There will be three types of sites in the California Bridge program: Star Sites, centers of excellence for initiating treatment of substance use disorders from anywhere in the hospital; Rural Bridge Sites, where treatment will begin primarily in the emergency department with the support of substance use navigators; and Bridge Clinics, ‘low-threshold’ follow-up clinics patients can visit after starting treatment in the hospital setting.
California Bridge Program Selected Sites Include:
1. Adventist Health Howard Memorial Hospital – Willits
2. Adventist Health and Rideout – Marysville
3. Arrowhead Regional Medical Center – Colton
4. Central California Faculty Medical Group – Fresno
5. Contra Costa Regional Medical Center – Martinez
6. Dignity Health Memorial Hospital – Bakersfield
7. El Centro Regional Medical Center – El Centro
8. Enloe Medical Center – Chico
9. Hanford Community Hospital – Hanford
10. Harbor-UCLA Medical Center – Torrance
11. Highland Hospital – Oakland
12. Kaweah Delta Hospital Foundation – Visalia
13. Marshall Medical Center – Placerville
14. Northern Inyo Hospital – Bishop
15. Olive View-UCLA Education & Research Institute – Los Angeles
16. Shasta Regional Medical Center Prime Healthcare Services – Redding
17. San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital – Banning
18. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital – Santa Barbara
19. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center – San Jose
20. Santa Rosa Community Health Brookwood Campus – Santa Rosa
21. Scripps Mercy Hospital – San Diego
22. Sierra Nevada Memorial Miners Hospital – Grass Valley
23. St. Joseph Health & St. Mary's Medical Center – Apple Valley
24. St. Joseph Hospital – Eureka
25. St. Joseph's Medical Center – Stockton
26. Sutter Lakeside Emergency Department – Lakeport
27. UC Davis Health – Sacramento
28. UC Irvine Medical Center – Orange
29. UC San Diego Health – San Diego
30. UCSF Medical Center – San Francisco
31. The Wellness Center – Los Angeles