Stanley Street Treatment and Resources Opioid Triage Center
Location: Fall River, Mass.
Target population: Anyone in the community affected by the opioid crisis
Quote: “We really haven't advertised, but they're coming in,” says Nancy Paull, SSTAR's chief executive.
Stanley Street Treatment and Resources (SSTAR) has continued to expand the hours of an open-access model of service that it initiated four years ago, and individuals caught in the throes of the opioid epidemic have benefited. This model responds to a community need, but more often than not it does not result in a direct referral to ongoing treatment at SSTAR, so connections beyond the organization are critical.
“Only about one in five people will get a bed here,” says CEO Nancy Paull.
The opioid triage component of SSTAR's open access model takes a team approach to assessing the patient, explains access center director Crystal Cote-Campos. After an intake worker collects basic information, a registered nurse conducts a medical assessment, determining if, for example, detox services can be administered without the risk of major complications. The program uses an American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) triage tool to assess the individual's needs.
The program also is staffed by a master's-level clinician and by a recovery coach who in essence becomes the individual's main point of contact. In many cases, the recovery coach will end up connecting the person to services elsewhere in the community if there is not a suitable fit available at SSTAR.
Demand for the assessments is soaring, even though SSTAR has done little advertising for the opioid triage center. Around 1,500 individuals have been seen in the past three months. Around 400 of 3,600 encounters since last August have resulted in a referral to medication treatment for opioid dependence.
“We thought we would have a lot of folks who were already known to us, but a lot of the people coming here are first-timers,” says Cote-Campos.
Given that the overall numbers around opioid use and overdose are not yet improving in SSTAR's southeastern Massachusetts service area, the organization is considering building a new treatment facility to help meet the demand. “There are no other detox beds here but ours,” Paull adds.
In addition, there appear to be no simple cases anymore, as more individuals present with a cluster of psychiatric and medical complications. And the challenges even go beyond the scope of the headline-grabbing opioid crisis, program leaders observe.
“Everyone's coming in,” Paull says. “We've seen a huge increase in recent weeks in alcohol [cases].”