Leading with Care – Kaleida Health
A Buffalo-based program has received an $8 million boost from the state to help expand a statewide substance abuse prevention and treatment program and possibly, into contiguous states.
The funding from the State Office of Addiction Services and Supports will allow UBMD Emergency Medicine to grow its Medication for Addiction Treatment and Emergency Referrals program, which already partners with 60 hospitals, 100 community clinics and 1,000 pharmacies as well as law enforcement groups and homelessness service providers.
Dr. Joshua Lynch, a senior physician with UBMD and medical director at Kaleida Health’s DeGraff Medical Park, developed the program in 2017 to make the referral process for medications more efficient. It has since expanded with an electronic referral platform as well as transportation, telemedicine and vouchers to pay for medication.
In the coming months, MATTERS will launch a new phone-based app with a map feature to give patients more options.
“Things across New York state have really taken off,” he said. “We wanted to make it easier to get medication, easier to get to your appointment and easier for doctors to refer patients.”
Lynch said the state funds will hire more providers to expand telemedicine coverage round the clock for assessment and medication prescribing, which will help fill gaps in parts of the state where there are fewer options for health care. It will also enable expand the platform to offer referrals for mental health treatment.
“So many people struggle with mental health and addiction at the same time,” Lynch said. “Those two things will help, and with that will come a new electronic referral platform later this year that will allow all this to happen and to refer people without making phone calls.”
The next step could include expanding MATTERS to other states, including New Jersey and other contiguous states that have expressed interest. That will be especially helpful in the New York City metro area, as well as border towns like Olean or Jamestown, for example, to get care in Pennsylvania.
Two New Jersey health care officials will discuss that possibility during a roundtable program June 2 in Buffalo with Lynch, Buffalo-area partners and Department of Health and Human Services Regional Director Dara Kass.
Lynch expects there will be federal funding for future expansion, especially following an HHS $1.5 billion allocation to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help states address the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic.
“That will save lives for sure, just like it does in New York state,” Lynch said.