CODAC Behavioral Healthcare Hits the Road to Address Opioid Crisis in Rural Communities

CODAC begins offering On-the-Go services July 29

From left to right: Mary Walton, Rebecca Boss, Linda Hurley, Adam Nitenson, Linda Mahoney, and Dustin Alvanas.

CRANSTON, R.I. (July 29, 2019) — CODAC Behavioral Healthcare is set to launch a statewide initiative with the assistance of the URI Rhode to Health mobile unit that will offer integrated medical and behavioral healthcare services. The mobile unit will offer yet another opportunity to remove barriers to care for people living in rural communities, where cases of opioid overdoses are higher.

On an early July morning, CODAC Behavioral Healthcare stationed the mobile unit near the Hazard Building on the Pastore Center Campus to introduce the staff that will be bringing medical and behavioral healthcare services to Rhode Island’s underserved community.

Mary Walton, Assistant Medical Director at CODAC, was on site to discuss the range of services available to representatives from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a federal agency that advances national behavioral healthcare efforts, and staff from the R.I. Department of Behavioral Healthcare (BHDDH), Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals.  

“The people we serve always have something going on that prevents them from seeking care. This mobile unit is giving us a chance to go to their neighborhood and help them receive immediate access to care in their time of need,” Walton said.

Rebecca Boss, director of BHDDH and a co-chair of Governor Gina Raimondo’s Task Force on Overdose Prevention and Intervention, praised CODAC’s response to a growing issue in Rhode Island. “We applaud CODAC Behavioral Healthcare for their commitment to integrate medical and behavioral healthcare services and to ensure that these services are brought to individuals wherever they live, particularly those in Rhode Island’s rural communities,” Boss said. She added, “We were pleased to provide approximately $350,000 to CODAC through SAMHSA’s State Opioid Response (SOR) grant, secured through Rhode Island’s congressional delegation. Once again, Rhode Island is leading the country in this new, innovative practice thanks to CODAC and URI’s Rhode to Health mobile unit.”

The 37-foot mobile unit, Walton says, is unique because of the holistic approach to care that will be available. Besides providing medication assisted treatment, the medical team on the mobile unit will be able to provide HIV and Hep C testing, crisis stabilization, medical care and help individuals acquire health insurance. Additionally, patients will have access to telehealth services, which helps improve the response time for new cases of opioid use disorder within the community. 

“Lack of transportation and resources as well as stigma remain significant barriers to care, and our work will help address those challenges directly,” said Linda Hurley, President/CEO of CODAC Behavioral Healthcare. “We look forward to working more closely with Rhode Island towns and cities in the coming months to help even more people receive much needed access to treatment.”

The $400,000 mobile unit— which includes two soundproof exam rooms and equipment typically found in a medical office—was funded by the state of Rhode Island through the Ryan White Foundation. It was first unveiled in late 2018, but it is making its debut to the recovery community now. 

Linda Mahoney, who serves as a State Opioid Treatment Authority for SAMHSA and is an administrator at BHDDH, praised CODAC’s ongoing efforts to curb opioid overdoses. “We can’t wait for people to come to us, we have to go to them,” Mahoney said. She says the services will provide an opportunity to help individuals bring the “mind and body together.”

CODAC will begin offering services on the mobile unit on Monday, July 29. Services will be provided five days a week, and patients will have access to a medical provider, a nurse, and an addiction counselor. CODAC is also working with community partners such as Thundermist Health Center and the Community Care Alliance to make sure that all patients’ medical needs are being met.

A full schedule of the mobile unit is available here.

About CODAC Behavioral Healthcare

Founded in 1971, CODAC Behavioral Healthcare is Rhode Island’s oldest and largest provider of outpatient services for opioid use disorder, other substance use disorders, and concurrent behavioral health challenges. With nine locations across Rhode Island, CODAC is uniquely positioned to provide services when and where they are needed. For more information about CODAC, visit: www.codacinc.org.

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