April 4, 2018
Veronica Mikitka Reed, For PHMC,
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Public Health Management Corporation Addressing Opioid Epidemic Through Advocacy, Research, Integrated Care and Evidence-Based Treatment
One of the nation’s leaders in public health tackles opioid and substance abuse

PHILADELPHIA, PAPublic Health Management Corporation (PHMC), a nonprofit public health institute that creates and sustains healthier communities, is working to address one of the leading public health issues in the country, the opioid epidemic, through advocacy, research, integrated care and evidence-based treatment approaches. During National Public Health Week, April 2-8, PHMC delves into the impact this work is having across the Southeastern Pennsylvania region and beyond.

“As one of the largest public health institutes in the country, PHMC continuously looks for ways to collaborate and partner to improve public health in our local communities,” said Richard J. Cohen, PHMC’s President and CEO. “Philadelphia has one of the highest opioid death rates of any large U.S. city. We recognize that as the crisis continues to build, so too must our response. PHMC is addressing the issue head-on across multiple fronts, combining our expertise in research, advocacy, prevention and treatment with our focus on providing integrated health, human and social services to individuals and families that result in positive, life-changing impacts. Across the United States, 23 million people are living in long-term recovery, made possible through access to the right types of treatment and a network of support for each individual.”

With more than 350 programs, a family of subsidiary organizations and various partnerships with government, foundations, businesses and community-based organizations, PHMC has consistently served diverse populations across the Southeastern Pennsylvania region since 1972. PHMC maintains a continuum of public health programs serving individuals from early childhood to adulthood, integrating services to impact every household in Philadelphia.

In 2017, more than 1,200 people fatally overdosed in Philadelphia. Nationally, 42,249 died from overdosing on opioids –116 people per day, and 2.1 million had an Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), a specific type of Substance Use Disorder (SUD). According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), of the 20.2 million adults with a SUD, 7.9 million people had a co-occurring mental health disorder, further emphasizing the need for integrated, holistic approaches to prevention, treatment and recovery.

Here is a closer look at how PHMC has been addressing SUD, particularly the rise of opioid use, as well as co-occurring mental health disorders, through advocacy, research, integration of care and treatment programs:

Advocating for equity
PHMC has joined five of the nation’s leading advocacy organizations for effective enforcement of The Mental Health Parity Act, legislation requiring annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits to be equal to medical benefits through the Parity10 campaign. The organizations share a vision and longstanding collaboration to increase public access to practical, effective services, and tools and policies to prevent, treat and support long-term recovery.

Better research for long-term improvement
In 2017, Treatment Research Institute (TRI) merged into PHMC’s Research and Evaluation Group (R&E Group), expanding and strengthening PHMC’s position as a research leader in the area of SUDs. PHMC’s R&E Group now leads a number of opioid-focused projects, including:

  • The State of Ohio recently set aside $11 million to sustain and expand programs that provide addiction treatment, including Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) to non-violent adult offenders with OUD, alcohol use disorder, or both who are entering drug courts throughout the state. These programs are required to conduct evaluations. PHMC’s R&E Group developed a robust program for supporting jurisdictions’ efforts to integrate MAT into their practices as part of federal funding requirements. Over the next two years, the team will advance efforts to examine the efficacy of using MAT with drug court clients, as well as conduct an evaluation of a pilot mental health court program in the state.
  • The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is funding research to compare two options for OUD. OUD patients from two large Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in Philadelphia and two in Washington D.C. will receive either a standard care referral to local community programs or the PATH program – Personalized Addiction Treatment to Health model – which is integrated into existing primary care with onsite, integrated OUD treatment. This project will assess the effectiveness of providing a personalized and comprehensive alternative for OUDs and help patients make decisions about what type of OUD treatment is most effective for them as compared to a more traditional treatment protocol.

Seeing the whole person: Integrating treatment and care
OUD is a chronic disease and PHMC works to treat it as such through an approach that integrates physical and mental health care, providing quality clinical treatment for the whole individual.

PHMC’s health network comprises six FQHCs providing high-quality health care to individuals of all ages regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. PHMC clinicians provide more than 60,000 medical and behavioral health visits to 16,000 patients each year.

PHMC health network’s Center for Excellence provides a program of coordinated care in PHMC’s FQHCs across the city. The program uses a Community Based Care Management (CBCM) team of social workers and care managers to help individuals with OUD access a variety of services to support them in their recovery. By acting as recovery support and social service navigators, the CBCM team assists patients in developing care plans and connects them to resources and treatment options so they do not fall out of care. Monitoring and supporting an individual’s overall recovery during and after treatment is just as important as the treatment itself. Ensuring that recovery becomes a part of the continuum of care plan is essential.

Treatment resources
For more than 45 years, PHMC has been providing direct services to individuals and families in and around Philadelphia. Among those services has been a focus on treatment and recovery for people with SUDs. Here are two highlights from PHMC’s service offering:

Pathways to Recovery (PTR) is PHMC’s intensive, trauma-focused program for individuals with substance use and mental health disorders that serves approximately 350 individuals per year; all of whom are low income and all of whom are Philadelphia County residents. PTR is the first and only partial hospitalization program in Philadelphia for this population, engaging highly vulnerable individuals struggling with both substance use and mental health disorders in order to provide stability and assist them in their recovery. PTR employs multiple evidence-based approaches, including MATs, cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, family, group and individual therapy to help the person recover holistically from substance use.

Chances is PHMC’s outpatient substance use treatment program for women and women with children. The program provides comprehensive therapeutic, education and support services, including individual and group therapy, MATs, parenting and adult education. Chances also provides on-site services for children, including structured child-parent play, educational activities, and an on-site day care program.

Interim House, Inc. and Interim House West are residential treatment programs providing a continuum of comprehensive services. Interim House, Inc. offers three levels of care to women with substance and alcohol use disorders – residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment and outpatient counseling. The program uses an approach that focuses on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual issues surrounding addiction. Interim House West is a residential treatment program for pregnant and parenting women with substance use and mental health disorders, and their children. Participants are offered a range of services including individual and group therapy, MATs, and parent and adult education. Services for children include an on-site pre-school, structured parent child-play, and after school programming.

The Bridge is a residential substance abuse treatment program for adolescents and an outpatient program for people of all ages. The Bridge, managed by PHMC subsidiary Turning Points for Children, runs an E-3 Program and the Bridge Intensive Prevention Services Program, helping youth with high risk behaviors, including substance use, secure their GED, find jobs and provide them with afterschool supports.

Click here for a snapshot of PHMC’s response to the opioid crisis.

About PHMC
Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that creates and sustains healthier communities. PHMC uses best practices and evidence-based guidelines to improve community health through direct service, partnership, innovation, policy, research, technical assistance and a prepared workforce. PHMC has served the region since 1972. For more information on PHMC, visit www.phmc.org.