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ECRMC Selected for Program to Expand MAT for Opioid Use Disorder

  • Category: News
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Israel Cruz

El Centro, Calif. – February 13, 2019 – El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC) is among 31 health facilities selected from across the state to participate in the California Bridge Program, an accelerated training program for healthcare providers facilitated by the Public Health Institute’s Bridge program to enhance access to around-the-clock treatment for substance use disorders. Program sites will receive funding, training, and technical assistance to improve and increase access to facility-wide treatment and referral of acute symptoms of substance use disorders. The Bridge program is funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant to the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).

“To our local community in Imperial Valley this program means that we will be able to save lives and bring hope to our members with Substance Use Disorder by decreasing mortality and bringing front line treatment that has not been available to them. “ said Dr. Leslie Mukau, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at ECRMC.

A referral to an addiction treatment program has been the most that hospitals have generally been able to provide for patients identified as needing treatment for opioid use disorder. The Bridge model treats emergency rooms and acute care hospitals as a critical window for initiating treatment. When patients in opioid withdrawal come seeking medical care, including for reasons not related to opioid use, they will be offered a dose of medication such as buprenorphine to ease severe symptoms of withdrawal, and then they will be connected with outpatient treatment in the community. Studies have shown that patients given this option of medication designed for addiction treatment are more likely to remain in care than those who are given referral information alone.

“By suppressing withdrawal long enough to create a bridge for patients to enter and remain in treatment, physicians can save lives,” said Andrew Herring, MD, Director of Emergency Department Services for the Bridge program. “We know this model works, and now we are bringing it to hospitals and emergency rooms all across the state that are anxious for real solutions to address the enormous pain and suffering they see every day caused by the opioid epidemic.”

“For the first time in Imperial Valley the El Centro Regional Medical Center Emergency Department will be able to start treatment with Buprenorphine in the Emergency Department. We will be in partnership with Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic where these patients will be able to continue on this type of treatment. This program will bring a bridge over which our patients will walk towards a new dawn of hope and wellness.” said Mukau.

The 18-month California Bridge training program, with funding from the California Department of Health Care Services and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), aims to ensure that any interaction a patient has with the healthcare system can be a potential opportunity to enter into treatment. It approaches substance use disorder as a treatable chronic illness—creating an environment that welcomes disclosure of opioid use, provides rapid evidence-based treatment, and enables patients to enter and remain in treatment.

There will be three types of sites in the California Bridge program: Star Sites, centers of excellence for initiating treatment of substance use disorders from anywhere in the hospital; Rural Bridge Sites, where treatment will begin primarily in the emergency department with the support of substance use navigators; and Bridge Clinics, ‘low-threshold’ follow-up clinics patients can visit after starting treatment in the hospital setting.

California Bridge Program Selected Sites Include:

  1. Adventist Health Howard Memorial Hospital – Willits
  2. Adventist Health and Rideout – Marysville
  3. Arrowhead Regional Medical Center – Colton
  4. Central California Faculty Medical Group – Fresno
  5. Contra Costa Regional Medical Center – Martinez
  6. Dignity Health Memorial Hospital – Bakersfield
  7. El Centro Regional Medical Center – El Centro
  8. Enloe Medical Center - Chico
  9. Hanford Community Hospital – Hanford
  10. Harbor-UCLA Medical Center – Torrance
  11. Highland Hospital – Oakland
  12. Kaweah Delta Hospital Foundation – Visalia
  13. Marshall Medical Center – Placerville
  14. Northern Inyo Hospital – Bishop
  15. Olive View-UCLA Education & Research Institute – Los Angeles
  16. San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital – Banning
  17. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital – Santa Barbara
  18. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center – San Jose
  19. Santa Rosa Community Health Center Bridge Campus – Santa Rosa
  20. Scripps Mercy Hospital – San Diego
  21. Sierra Nevada Memorial Miners Hospital – Grass Valley
  22. St. Joseph Health & St. Mary's Medical Center – Apple Valley
  23. St. Joseph Hospital – Eureka
  24. St. Joseph's Medical Center – Stockton
  25. Sutter Lakeside Emergency Department – Lakeport
  26. UC Davis Health – Sacramento
  27. UC Irvine Medical Center – Orange
  28. UC San Diego Health – San Diego
  29. UCSF Medical Center – San Francisco
  30. The Wellness Center – Los Angeles

One additional site pending - to be added into the list February 13th


About the Bride Program

Bridge, a program of the Public Health Institute, is establishing a culture of evidence-based medicine to treat substance use disorders through an accelerated training program for healthcare providers that supports, enhances, and increases access to 24/7 treatment in every community. Though California ranks only 37th in the country for prescription opioid deaths, the death rates in 16 rural California counties are high enough to put them in the top 10 for the whole nation, and overdoses by synthetic opioids were up 44 percent in California in 2017.
El Centro Regional Medical Center
ECRMC is an acute-care medical center, serving the health care needs of the Imperial Valley since 1956. In addition to the 161-bed hospital, ECRMC also owns and operates the Oncology & Hematology of Imperial Valley, Wound Healing Center, Outpatient Imaging Center and outpatient clinics in El Centro and Calexico. The outpatient centers provide exceptional primary and