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Treatment clinic to open Feb. 5

South Whidbey Record - 1/25/2020

Access to a critical component of addiction recovery for Whidbey Island residents has been inconsistent at best.

Early next month, a new program will launch out of the North Whidbey Family Resource Center on 1st Avenue in Oak Harbor. Lifeline Connections will run a "rapid response clinic" Wednesday afternoons from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. starting Feb. 5 that will provide same-day access to medications that can aid in opioid or alcohol addiction recovery.

"When people are ready to seek treatment, it's important to take advantage of that window," Lifeline Marketing Supervisor Shannon Edgel said.

A nurse care manager will staff the clinic a prescriber will speak to patients via a telemedicine program, Edgel said. Peer mentors — people who have experienced addition and been trained to mentor others in recovery — will also be available at times. The program, as well as others like it in the region, are funded through a Substance Abuse and Mental Health grant.

The grant is aimed at providing medication assisted treatment — known as MAT — in under-served rural areas, according to Linda Cruthers, a project director at the North Sound Behavioral Health Administrative Services Organization, which administers the grant. Island County had been on the organization's radar because of the deficit, she said.

The medication helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings to aid addiction recovery. The clinic will be able to provide Suboxone and Vivitrol, Edgel said, the latter of which is effective with alcohol withdrawals as well as opioid.

"This is just one foot in the door to begin to bring stability to people," Cruthers said.

The clinic's location should also serve as a benefit, according to Edgel, because the building also houses the county public health needle exchange program and the Opportunity Council, which is a nonprofit that helps homeless and low-income individuals with housing, education, childcare, and financial and job training. The county's opioid outreach team will also soon start referrals.

Island County Human Services staff had been looking for a provider to offer this service for some time, according to department director Jackie Henderson. Most people have had to travel off island to receive MAT, she said.

The new clinic will take all insurances and state Apple Health, Edgel said.

The people who come in will set individual goals that will be reviewed when they return regularly to receive medication.

It's common for people experiencing active addiction to be impulsive, Edgel said, which is why it's important to get them stabilized during a period of times when that impulsivity might lead them to seek treatment.

The North Whidbey Family Resource Center is located at 1791 NE 1st Avenue #2, Oak Harbor. The clinic will be open Wednesday afternoons beginning Feb. 3.