As part of a grant awarded to the health center by the federal government, NEW Health Charlestown has begun a new program that looks to help those suffering from addiction. Opiate use has become a major problem all over New England; the Charlestown neighborhood in Boston has become one of the hardest hit communities. The substance use disorder program – known as SUDS – will provide treatment to patients who have become dependent on prescription opioids or similar substances.
Charlestown has the second highest rate of treatment admissions for heroin of 14 Boston neighborhoods and 80% of Charlestown’s treatment admission was for heroin use. The neighborhood also has the second highest rate of EMS overdose calls and overdose deaths at 19.4 per 100,000, as well as the 4th highest rate of NARCAN training enrollment in Boston. Its Hepatitis C rate, related to injection drug use is the highest in the city by a significant margin at over 300 per 100,000 residents. The goals of treatment include eliminating opiate and drug injection use, reducing or eliminating alcohol or other drug use, and improving health status and function level of each program member.
The team at NEW Health Charlestown has taken a unique, fully-integrated approach to the care of patients within the program. NEW Health Charlestown is defined as a patient-centered medical home; this means that all members of the medical staff work together with each individual patient to meet specific needs. Members of the SUDS program are encouraged to take an active role in their care. The program – lead by Doctors Anne Murray – Chiriboga and Yulya Kutsman – is comprised of three main components: opioid replacement therapy – through the administration of suboxone – as well as outpatient behavioral health services, and a structured outpatient addiction program.
Patients within the program have access to the behavioral health team at no extra cost; this ensures that each patient receives any mental and emotional help support necessary. Behavioral health specialists at NEW Health work with program members to develop or update crisis plans, provide individual, group, couple or family treatment, and ensure access to all FDA-approved medications. The health center also employs a recovery coach who can assist members in the program along the path to recovery. NEW Health will also be hosting alcoholics’ anonymous meetings to help candidates who struggle with alcohol addiction as well.
To enroll in the program, candidates must be patients of the health center. NEW Health Charlestown is located at 15 Tufts Street, in Charlestown; those interested can visit or call 857-238-1100 to schedule an appointment. The organization hopes that the new program will allow more neighborhood residents the opportunity to seek help and have a positive impact on the community as a whole.