With the Opioid Crisis in Humboldt County, Redwoods Rural Health Center Now Offers Treatment for Addicts
Humboldt County has five times the opioid deaths of the rest of California and Redwoods Rural Health Center in Redway has begun a new program to help address the problem.
Two of Redwoods Rural’s employees–Mandi Battles, PA and Robin Barnes, FNP–have received their certifications to provide Suboxone Opioid Use Disorder treatment. The two are working with Singing Trees Recovery Center to provide help for those with opioid addiction.
“The program is not only for those who are addicted to street drugs but also for those who need help with their prescriptions,” explained Tina Tvedt, the Executive Director of Redwoods Rural. “Insurance covers it or we have a grant through Aegis for uninsured or underinsured.” Those who have insurance just have to cover their copay.
Part of the treatment is offering Buprenorphine/Suboxone which is a medication approved for detoxification by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. “Suboxone is a lot safer than opioids,” Tvedt explained. “There are a lot of people who die from opioids.”
Tvedt said, “Right now we are accepting current patients of Redwood Health who have had a visit in the last 12 months. There is…a process to see if you would be a good candidate for the program…We are accepting new clients for suboxone treatment, but they need to establish medical care with RRHC first and utilize RRHC as their primary care provider.” She explained that anyone seeking treatment would reach out to the Medical and Behavioral Health Team at the clinic.
There is an intake to see if someone would be a good fit for the program, Tvedt said. “If you are accepted, depending on how severe your dependency is, we may require weekly checkins,” she added. “People then would graduate into a less frequent check-in.” Tvedt said the treatment is completely confidential.
She noted that the Suboxone program “is really both a medical treatment and behavioral treatment. People not only take the medication, they also meet and talk.” She explained, “Singing Trees has an hour-long group where they talk about how to manage change and set goals for recovery and how to manage pain.”
She added, “On a case by case basis, counselors may see that individual counseling is needed…They have to come at least once a month for the behavioral health component.”
Tvedt stressed, “If people relapse, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are kicked off the program.” Counselors understand that the patient is going through a process and will work with individuals on a case by case basis to make sure they get the support they need.
Having a program in Southern Humboldt could be very helpful to those who have been commuting to Eureka for help, Tvedt explained. “We are accepting folks who are wanting to transfer…We are trying to get those local who are going to Open Door programs to come down here. We don’t want people to have that burden of going to up to Eureka. We maintain what Open Door has been doing.”
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