The effects of heroin and opiate addiction are devastating. People have died, the state has been ravaged, and the health care system is stressed. It is one of the reasons why Mercy Hospital has focused on recovery services especially to those who are struggling. The hospital has come out to make it clear that in as much as alcoholism and the detoxification process require one to be hospitalized and are an acute health crisis, opiate addiction can be effectively handled outside the setting of a hospital. Recovery centers are a good example of how effective this can be.
In Portland, this revelation has led to a marvelous coalition of forces. Dubbed the Great Portland Addiction Collaborative, it is being spearheaded by Mercy Hospital. The main aim of this collaborative is to tackle the opiate addiction crisis head-on. The fact that the entire community has chosen to support this initiative is enough evidence that if fully implemented, it can bring major changes that will save the lives of the addicts.
Other partners in this collaborative include Maine Medical Center, Amistad, The City of Portland, Opportunity Alliance, and Portland Police Department. There also are others including Preble Street Resource Center, Catholic Charities, Milestone Foundation, Community Housing of Maine as well as Portland Community Health Center. Looking at the partners who have been incorporated into this intuitive, it is easy to notice that everyone has been brought onboard.
One of the amazing things about this collaborative is the simple yet so brilliant nature of their plan. The possibility of waste and duplication of efforts has been eliminated because all the existing resources in the community have been combined into one mega initiative. If the agencies did not share in the new measures, each one of them would be spending a lot doing the same thing. While leveraging on law enforcement as well as peer support workers and street outreach, the model is without a doubt one of the best.
Additionally, the model will offer access to treatment of addiction disorders for outpatient victims. They will offer safe and sober housing and support to victims recovering from opiate addiction. Mental health services and primary care have not been left out of the model. According to the Greater Portland Addiction Collaborative, there will be a three year pilot program that will be the pioneering phase of the initiative. Already, plans are underway to secure funding for this phase. It is expected to recruit 10 people as the beginning group. This is the approximate number of addicts who have been constantly seeking treatment but have been turned away numerous times by the Milestones Foundation.
It is expected that data from this initiative is being analyzed. The state is also closely following the developments with an aim of expanding the model in other communities. After attracting the attention of the Maine congressional delegation, there is no doubt that the collaborative will be a game changer in coming days. Funding is not a problem with many organizations ready to support this course.