A Catholic Charities in New York has received a nearly $1 million grant to provide care to opioid addicts in rural counties in the southern part of the state.
This year the Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster received $982,356 in federal funding, as part of N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $25 million plan to tackle the state’s opioid crisis. This is the second year Catholic Charities has received funding to fight opioid abuse.
Dr. Dean Scher, CEO of this local Catholic Charities, told CNA that 10 percent of the U.S. population suffer from opioid abuse. He said opioid related deaths average about 185 per day in the nation.
The money will help Catholic Charities to provide addiction services, like more staff and equipment, to the New York counties of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster, about 70 miles north of New York City. Scher said many of these people struggle with transportation issues.
“The money is used for us to hire staff and [purchase] equipment that allows us to embed the staff in the community in rural areas and in areas where people typically have a hard time accessing treatment,” said Dr. Scher.
“We have a multidisciplinary treatment team as well as equipment that allows us to do telemedicine.”
He said the equipment purchased is of two kinds – transportation to bring the proper services to these people and technology, like computers and video cameras, which allow psychologists and physicians to determine treatment from afar.
In the teleconference, he said, the patients are pointed to some of the community resources, whether it be primary health care, psychiatric health care, or social safety net programs.
Some of the therapies patients’ access are Community Reinforcement and Family Therapy, Holistic Health Recovery, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Seeking Safety.
Transportation is one of the barriers restricting people from access to addictive services and other forms of health care, said Scher, but he also said many of these people have not developed a habit of self-care.
“Statistics and research indicates that nine out of 10 people who suffer from an opioid use disorder do not access treatment,” he said.
“While transportation may be a barrier … another significant barriers is these people typically, traditionally do not engage in any kind of treatment service,” he added.
He said there is a high correlation connecting poverty and the development of diseases to further substance abuse. He said the goal of this Catholic Charities’ program is to directly treat substance abuse problems and to establish preventative measures to reduce future relapses.
“The focus of the work is not only to link these people up with the treatment for their substance use disorder, but all the other disorders,” he said. “The idea is to begin to develop relationships with these people and the trust of that relationship increases the probability that they’ll begin to enter treatment one a regular basis for all of their problems.”
This method also looks to reduce medical costs at the state level, he said, noting the large portion of people who do not seek medical treatment are responsible for a majority of the Medicaid dollars spent.
“I don’t think there is a person in the nation who has not lost a family member or a friend or someone they know to an overdose,” he said.
“We all need help,” he said. “It’s part of our mission – to provide help and create hope.”