The grant awarded to Road to Recovery on Sept. 1, 2017, under Colorado State Senate Bill 17-074, (“SB74”) is a grant pilot program that specifically addresses opioid use disorders in Routt and Pueblo counties by expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (“MAT”) for opioid use disorder. MAT utilizes a “whole patient” treatment approach for opioid addiction, combining Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved medications, such as Buprenorphine, with behavioral health therapy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, MAT is shown to decrease “opioid use, opioid-related deaths, criminal activity and infectious disease transmission.”
SB 74 allocates funds to local medical providers and medical practices to increase the number of trained and licensed medical professionals to treat opioid use disorder. Specifically, the grant includes funds to train nurse practitioners and physician assistants in local medical practices to dispense the specific FDA-approved medications for opioid use disorder. The grant will not only increase access to MAT, but provide access to behavior therapies for individuals with opioid use disorder.
Jose Esquibel, Director of Community Engagement with the Office of the Colorado Attorney General, said Routt County was chosen as a Pilot MAT site due to the increase in drug overdose rates in Routt County from 2014-2016.
“As noted in the Legislative declaration of SB17-074, drug overdose rates in Routt County increased nearly six-fold from 2014 to 2016, and over 65% of those deaths were related to prescription opioids,” said Esquibel. “Expanding MAT among nurse practitioners and physician assistants in Routt County also provide benefits to residents in need of this serve that reside in surrounding counties, especially Jackson County, where there were also high rates of drug overdose deaths,” he added.
Nancy Beste, physician assistant and Executive Director of Road to Recovery is in charge of administering the grant awarded under SB74 and providing periodic progress updates to University of Colorado College of Nursing. Beste has specialized in addiction and pain medicine for over 15 years and said she sees a need for comprehensive pain management treatment alternatives in Routt County.
“The SB74 grant will allow us to train medical professionals on how to use pain medication and keep people off of opioids,” Beste said. “This grant allows us to provide a comprehensive, multi-modality specialty practice that will incorporate local medical providers in an effort to reduce the opioid addiction rate,” she said.
Beste noted that according to data from the Center for Disease Control, in 2014 eight to ten opioid-related deaths per 100,000 occurred in Routt County and
19 opioid-related deaths occurred in 2016.
“It is important to remember that the population of Routt County is 24,130. The deaths from opioids are disproportionally affecting men ages 25-55,” Beste said.
Beste said she is excited about the opportunities the grant brings to the Routt County local medical community. She will train ten nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe and dispense MAT. Beste also said three certified addiction counselors will be trained to work with the patients in conjunction with their MAT treatment to provide a holistic approach to the recovery process.
“In addition to the three nurse practitioners and physician assistants working in our office, we will be choosing four to six additional nurse practitioners and physician assistants who work in area medical practices to train to prescribe MAT. We will provide each medical practice with treatment protocol, screening, monitoring and documentation tools,” Beste said. “In order to make MAT a profitable, viable resource for each practice’s patients, I plan to spend up to 60 hours working in the clinic to help the providers and staff master how to utilize MAT,” she said.
Beste said she is eager to work with local medical providers to provide opioid treatment options to individuals with opioid use disorder.
Steven Wright, M.D., Medical Director for Road to Recovery, will assist Beste in the Routt County office. Dr. Wright is Board Certified in Family Medicine, Addiction Medicine and is a pain specialist. Located in Lakewood, Colorado, Dr. Wright will come to the Steamboat office on a regular basis. Like Beste, Dr. Wright said he looks forward to bringing alternative medical modalities to provide addiction care and medical management to the Routt County community.
“Providing new evidence-based addition services to a community is most of all of great benefit to those who continue to struggle. It is an honor to be a part of their lives in meaningful ways. For medical providers seeing these patients who often present not with simply a long Review of Systems but a Review of a Nightmare, the corresponding medical challenges can often be effecting resolution of multi-system symptom and functional crises through effective treatment of addiction,” he said.
The new Road to Recovery clinic opened in Steamboat Springs, Colorado on Feb. 2, 2018, and is located at 320 Oak Street, Steamboat Springs, Colorado.