Early Months of Opioid Response Project Yield Success, Hope

MOST Update

The Rice County Integrated Opioid Response Project has made impressive strides in addressing the impact of opioid drug misuse throughout Rice County. In its first six months, it addressed the local availabililty of Medication-Assisted Treatment, and it referred more than 50 people to local services that support opiate use disorder treatment and recovery.

"Providers in Rice County have been desperate for these services for over 10 years, and we have worked with clients in crisis who have struggled to get the services they need and deserve," said Yvette Marthaler, Rice County chemical health social worker. "The Opioid Response Project provides treatment and hope for people and our community."

The opioid response project is an initiative of the Rice County Chemical and Mental Heath Coalition and is supported by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division. The project is a two-part system that aims to get people into treatment more quickly and help them overcome barriers to recovery.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

One part of the project involves increasing local access to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), by increasing the number of providers who can prescribe suboxone (the drug used to treat opioid disorders) and by increasing the number of sites where people can get suboxone.

Before the project started, MAT was only available at one location in Rice County, the Northfield Hospital + Clinics Opiate Agonist Therapy Clinic in Lonsdale. It's now available at HealthFinders-Faribault, and it will be available at two additional sites later this year. One additional provider is now prescribing suboxone, and three more are completing the required training.

Having a nearby place to go for treatment – instead of having to travel to other parts of the state – improves people's chances of recovery, said Emily Carroll, director of clinical care and certified nurse practitioner at HealthFinders-Faribault.

"We're so close to where people live, they can actually come over on their lunch break," she said.

Mobile Opioid Support Team (MOST)

The project also involves the coordination of a support team that formed to help people access treatment and the transportation resources, emergency funding, and other assistance they need during recovery. The Mobile Opioid Support Team (MOST) is a collaborative effort that involves 18 local agencies representing health care, law enforcement, social services, and substance abuse treatment.

Carroll said MOST's ability to connect people with services has enhanced patient recovery.

Both Carroll and Marthaler said Team Coordinator Jessica Bakken, with Mayo Clinic Health System-Fountain Centers, has continued to provide critical support for people during the COVID-19 pandemic, when isolation poses additional barriers to recovery.

Project partners are Allina Health, Community Action Center of Northfield, Faribault Police Department, Fernbrook Family Center, Mayo Clinic Health Systems - Fountain Centers, Growing Up Healthy, HealthFinders Collaborative, North Memorial Health Ambulance, Northfield Hospitals+Clinics, Northfield Hospitals+Clinics Emergency Medical Services, Northfield Police Department, Northfield Hospitals+Clinics Agonist Therapy Clinic, Rice County Public Health, Rice County Sheriff's Office, Rice County Social Services, Secure Base Counseling, Sterling Pharmacy, and Three Rivers Community Action.

For more information or to refer someone to the program, contact MOSTlead@ricecountycmhc.org or call 507-299-0204.