Combat Opioid Abuse:HRSA Increases Funding for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services at EBNHC

By John Lynds

Last Friday afternoon at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Federal Health Resources and Services Administrator (HRSA) Jeffrey Beard announced an investment to increase funding for substance abuse and mental health services at the Health Center. The funding will help EBNHC combat opioid abuse with integrated mental health services.

EBNHC will receive $175,700 to strengthen its MAP (Medication Assisted Pathway) program that helps Health Center patients combat their addiction to opioids. MAP is EBNHC’s  treatment plan for opioid dependence that includes heroin and narcotic painkillers. In this program, physicians and behavioral health providers work together to manage each patient’s care.

“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be here today to announce this award to the EBNHC,” said Beard. “This money will allow your health center to be able to focus on treatment, prevention and awareness of opioid abuse by increasing personnel, leveraging health information technology and provide much needed treatment. Millions of Americans struggle each and every day with substance abuse and mental health issues, my agency (HRSA) wants to be on the ground and in communities to join hands and partner to fight this growing public health crisis. With this infusion of funds you will be able to better target resources for treatment and prevention of opioid abuse for people in your community. Health centers like EBNHC make such a tremendous difference in the lives of patients and we want to strengthen your health center so you can continue your important work here.”

EBNHC CEO Manny Lopes said when he received the call from HRSA last week saying they wanted to use EBNHC to announce this increase in funding to health center’s across the country it proved the importance of the partnership between HRSA and EBNHC.

“This is a strong partnership and if not for HRSA we would not have this building and without HRSA we would not have the resources we need to do our work (to combat the opioid crisis),” said Lopes. “I just want to once agin thank HRSA and Administrator Beard for helping us provide these resources as we join together to battle this opioid crisis and disease and work towards solutions.”

EBNHC Chief Behavior Health Officer Michael Mancusi said the HRSA funding will allow the Health Center to expand and mature its fully integrated behavior health model of care at EBNHC to help combat opioid addiction.

“Specifically these funds will allow us to increase access to mental health and substance abuse service for our MAP patients,” said Mancusi. “We are already providing these important services but we need to expand. We will have the tools that provide life saving treatment. There is so much more to MAP Patients ending their relationship with opioids. They need a huddle and all of us on the team around them and supporting them as they move into the future.

Rosie, a MAP patient, announced she was three years sober at Friday’s event thanks to MAP.

“I just got three years sober on September 3,” she said. “I never thought I’d get three seconds never mind about three years. I swear by MAP, I love the staff, I truly love you guys. I lost a brother to this disease so we really need MAP.”

Rosie was followed by Jim who said MAP Had saved his life.

“I’ve been in the program (MAP) for two years now,” said Jim. “If not for MAP I would not be here right now. They (the staff) are like family. We’ve been losing friends of ours and they have been dying everyday so please keep supporting MAP. They are keeping me going and keeping me alive.”

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